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RITUAL, HEALING, AND HOLISTIC MEDICINE AMONG THE ZULU ZIONISTS (SOUTH AFRICA)

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posted on 2023-08-04, 13:54 authored by Charles Sheldon Williams

The dissertation focuses upon the religious rituals, social forms, and adaptive strategies which the Zulu Zionists of South Africa use to treat illnesses. Four problem orientations guided the study: (1) to account for the sources of the fluidity of Zulu Zionism; (2) to determine the conceptualization of power and its multiple expressions in Zulu Zionism; (3) the categorization of physical and mental illnesses; (4) the recasting of historically defined Zulu healing roles within Zionism. Research has been guided by the hypothesis that Zulu Zionists, in their approaches to illness and healing, are highly syncretistic and generate new concepts for the causes and cures of illness and in turn restructure social roles to accommodate these concepts. The research was carried out through the methods of participant-observation of Zionist services, extended interviews with leaders, congregants, and patients and through the use of videotapes during eleven months of field research in Durban, and its rural Zulu hinterland. Quantitative methods included the construction of a data matrix for forty Zionist services and twenty-four Zionist practitioners, and the subjection of the cases and appropriate variables to frequency distribution and factor analyses. A central finding of the study is that in their diagnoses and treatment of illnesses the Zionists regard the unity of the group and its health as important as the apparent features of a patient's physical or psychological symptoms. Zionists have also perfected ways for symbolizing "power" through their uses of color and ritual, and have successfully demonstrated ways of converting spiritual power to social uses which extend beyond the realm of religious services. It was also found that Zionists link their conceptualization and treatment of mental illnesses to various types of spirit possession that have been historically recognized in Zulu society. The study concludes that the viability and adaptability of Zulu Zionism is a holistic medical system that fulfills the social, psychological, and religious needs of its members.

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American University

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English

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Ph.D. American University 1982.

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http://hdl.handle.net/1961/thesesdissertations:1989

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