Philippe Denis

Philippe Denis
University of KwaZulu-Natal | ukzn · School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics

PhD (History)

About

91
Publications
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215
Citations
Additional affiliations
January 1993 - present
University of KwaZulu-Natal
Position
  • Professor (Full)
Description
  • Areas of interest: History of Christianity - Social history- Catholic history - oral history - memory work

Publications

Publications (91)
Chapter
Using the reports of various commissions on the ‘Native question’ published in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as well as books, pamphlets and minutes of meetings produced by missionaries, the paper examines the discourse held by missionaries, Catholic as well as Protestant, on labour issues in South Africa at the turn of the century. It arg...
Article
Religious women born in Africa or of African descent have for a long time played a significant role in the parishes, schools, clinics and orphanages run by the Catholic Church. Their history has rarely been told and they tend to be invisible both in church and society. This paper presents a survey, based on already published studies and easily avai...
Article
Traditionally, evangelical Christians support, if only passively, the government of the day and are reluctant to take a stand on political issues. Under apartheid, this represented a dilemma for black evangelicals. Most of them experienced the evil effects of the regime on a daily basis. But they were unable to articulate their opposition to aparth...
Article
On the basis of documentary evidence, this paper examines the position of the Missionaries of Africa, also known as White Fathers, in political and ethnic matters during the buildup to the genocide in Rwanda, the genocide itself, and the postgenocide period. It argues that the Missionaries of Africa responded to the genocide in different ways. Some...
Article
Black women expressed the desire to enter religious life in a Dominican Congregation of the Catholic Church of Natal for the first time in 1923. Since all the sisters of the two congregations they wanted to join (initially the Dominican Sisters of Oakford and, later on, the Dominican Sisters of Newcastle) were white, the question was raised of how...
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The story which gave its name to South African biblical scholar Gerald West’s latest book is truly remarkable. West unearthed it in a collection of texts from and testimonies about the Zulu prophet Isaiah Shembe recorded by Petros Dhlomo, the Nazarite Church’s archivist. Established by Shembe in 1911 in the Natal province, the Nazareth Baptist Chur...
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Is there truth in history? Historians are commonly expected to produce ‘facts’ and to be ‘objective’. If they teach the history of Christianity, their audience sees in them the depositors of the ‘truth’ on the history of church. Showing the contradictions of the church’s discourse in the past and highlighting the essentially transient nature of chu...
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In October 1998, a think tank of the Rwandan state proposed the establishment of gacaca jurisdictions – popular courts charged with judging the people involved in the genocide against the Tutsi. Lesser known is the Christian gacaca, a conflict resolution mechanism, also inspired by the traditional gacaca, which was established during the same perio...
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The paper examines three historical situations where Christian churches confessed their guilt for their implication in episodes of extreme violence, whether by acts of omission or commission: post-Second World War Germany, post-apartheid South Africa and post-genocide Rwanda. In Germany and in South Africa several churches confessed their guilt rap...
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The paper describes the experience of people living with HIV in KwaZulu-Natal. It is based on oral history interviews with members of two support groups in the Pietermaritzburg area that were conducted in 2009 and 2011, respectively. The interviews show that, if stigma and discrimination remain a key component of the experience of people living wit...
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The Anglican Church in Tanzania emerged from the work of the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa (UMCA) and the Australian Church Missionary Society (CMSA). The Anglican missions had goals which stood against colonialism and supported the victory of nationalism. Using archives and interviews as sources, this article considers the roles and reac...
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Little attention has been paid to the Christian churches in memory studies in southern Africa. Using new and existing research, the paper proposes a first approach to this new field of enquiry, with special reference to southern African Christianity. The churches embody their memories in liturgies, canonisations, monuments, commemorative events and...
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The purpose of this paper is to bring to the attention of the AIDS research community the existence of an oral history project known as the Memories of AIDS Project. The project focused on HIV/AIDS support group members, non-governmental organisation (NGO) workers and home-based carers in the Umgungundlovu (Pietermaritzburg) District Municipality,...
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In November 1893 Franz Pfanner, a Catholic missionary born in Austria, founder of the Trappist monastery of Mariannhill near Pinetown, sent to two Natal newspapers an article on the Native Question which attracted a fair amount of attention. A more elaborate version of his proposals was published the following year in the form of a pamphlet. Pfanne...
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In April 1985, the workers of a transnational corporation known as BTR Sarmcol in Howick in the Natal Midlands embarked on a strike to demand basic workers’ rights. The entire workforce – 970 people, many of whom lived in the nearby township of Mpophomeni – was dismissed a few days later. This triggered a cycle of violence between the striking work...
Book
En septembre 1611 paraît sous le titre De ecclesiastica et politica potestate un abrégé de la doctrine de la faculté de théologie de Paris, communément appelée doctrine de l’École de Paris, sur la question des rapports entre le pouvoir civil et le pouvoir ecclésiastique. L’ouvrage connaît plusieurs éditions et est traduit en français, en anglais et...
Book
En 1611, alors que Henri IV vient d'être assassiné, que la lutte entre gallicans et ultramontains fait rage, Edmond Richer provoque le plus grand scandale éditorial de ce début du XVIIe siècle avec un brûlot sur l'exercice du pouvoir dans l'Eglise et les rapports entre le pouvoir civil et le pouvoir religieux: De la puissance ecclésiastique et poli...
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This paper examines the representations and emotions associated with disclosure and stigma in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, seven years after the start of the South African government's ARV roll-out programme on the basis of in-depth oral history interviews of HIV-positive support group members. It argues that the wider availability of ARV treat...
Book
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During 2013, a conference on the response of the Catholic Church to HIV and AIDS was held at St Joseph's Theological Institute, Cedara KwaZulu-Natal. This book brings together papers presented at the conference together with some significant documents of the Catholic Magisterium in Southern Africa and beyond written during the course of the last 30...
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By the time of the Council the reputation of Denis Hurley, archbishop of Durban, as a staunch opponent of apartheid, was already well established. He made several interventions in aula and played a prominent role topics including such as English in the liturgy and seminary training. Yet, unlike the American bishops for example, he never campaigned...
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This paper tells the story of the Journal of Theology for Southern Africa from the time of its first issue in December 1972 to the end of 1980. This history is intimately connected to the early history of academic theology in English in southern Africa and to the emergence of what would be called, at the end of the first decade of the journal, cont...
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This article discusses the role of the Christian churches in the political conflict that engulfed the black township of Mpophomeni near Howick in the 1980s and early 1990s. It argues that, despite obvious limitations, this role was significant, much more than in other violence-affected areas of Natal. The dismissal of the entire workforce of BRT Sa...
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The paper describes the experience of people living with HIV in KwaZulu-Natal. It is based on oral history interviews with members of two support groups in the Pietermaritzburg area that were conducted in 2009 and 2011, respectively. The interviews show that, if stigma and discrimination remain a key component of the experience of people living wit...
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Various attempts at establishing Anglican theological education were made after the arrival in 1848 of Robert Gray, the first bishop of Cape Town, but it was not until 1876 that the first theological school opened in Bloemfontein. As late as 1883 half of the Anglican priests in South Africa had never attended a theological college. The system of th...
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This study examines how African independent churches (AICs) in South Africa have been addressing money issues since the start of the movement in the mid 1880s. If the AICs do not bring instant fortune to their members, they enhance their quality of life by encouraging them to find work, usually in the informal sector," and by offering various forms...
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This article focuses on working with children affected by HIV/AIDS in South Arica. In the early years of the AIDS epidemic, relief organizations focused their efforts on the material needs of children, but their psychological and emotional needs are no less important. Recognizing this, the Sinomlando Centre for Oral History and Memory Work in Afric...
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The present article examines the relations between Catholics and Protestants in South Africa prior to the Second Vatican Council. It is based on a collection of forty-eight articles dealing with 'non-Catholics' in the weekly Catholic newspaper The Southern Cross between 1949 and 1951. This period was chosen on account of its proximity to the founda...
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This paper explores the strategies deployed by the Catholic authorities in the late 19th century to gain access to Zululand, their approach to race relations and their relationship to the colonial enterprise in general. The first Catholic mission in Zululand was established in 1895 through a remarkable conjunction of events: the intervention of an...
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The article argues that a significant number of priests and pastors trained in seminaries in the 1970s were influenced by the Black Consciousness movement. The South African Student Association (SASO) had branches in at least three seminaries for blacks, the Federal Theological Seminary at Alice, the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Umphumulo and S...
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1 Established in 1963, the Federal Theological Seminary of Southern Africa, also known as Fedsem, occupies a unique place in South African history. For three decades, it was one of the main places of training for the Church of the Province of Southern Africa (Anglican), the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, the United Congregational Church of So...
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On 25 August 1985, a crowd of a hundred people, led by the mayor of Imbali, Patrick Pakkies, and a member of the KwaZulu Legislature, Velaphi Ndlovu, demanded that the staff and students of the Federal Theological Seminary of Southern of Africa (Fedsem) leave their premises by the following Friday, allegedly because they had been instrumental in th...
Book
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With the end of apartheid and the exciting, but elusive, advent of a new nation, South Africa is witness to the emergence of a new generation of oral historians whose aim is to develop a broader, more inclusive and culturally sensitive understanding of the South African past. In a country still wounded by a legacy of racial discrimination, the retr...
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The purpose of this paper is to help oral history practitioners to reflect on the ethics of their discipline.1 By ethics of oral history one means the moral obligations a practitioner has in the conduct of an oral history project. The requirements of oral history are different from those of cognate disciplines such as psychology, anthropology or jo...
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This paper reviews the works devoted to the four-century-long history of indigenous clergy in Southern Africa during the past twenty-five years. The author proposes a periodisation which refers to the political history of the region as well as to the qualitative and quantitative transformation of the indigenous clergy. The first period in the histo...
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Ever since 2003, researchers from the Sinomlando Centre have been interviewing groups of survivors from the civil war waged between the African National Congress and the Zulu traditional movement, Inkatha, in a tribal area called Nxamalala, on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg. During the period between 1987 and 1991 more than fifty people lost the...
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This paper describes the painstaking, controversy-ridden and only partly successful attempts made to harmonise worship life at the Federal Theological Seminary of Southern Africa in the 1980s. Established at Alice in 1963, this ecumenical seminary relocated to Imbali, Pietermaritzburg, in the late 1970s after being expropriated by the apartheid sta...
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This chapter discusses the experience that a group of South African children have of their fathers in the context of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Thirty-three families affected by HIV/AIDS in KwaZulu-Natal were interviewed in the study. In these families, only 27 per cent of the fathers regularly resided with their children, or had resided with their chi...
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In this article Philippe Denis gives a critical edition of a hereto unpublished correspondence between Pieter van Ewijk, a young Dominican from the recently restored Dutch province, who had been sent as a missionary to the Cape in 1852, and Vincent Jandel, the master of the Dominican Order. The vicar apostolic of the Cape, the Irish Dominican Patri...
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In this article Philippe Denis gives a critical edition of a hereto unpublished correspondence between Pieter van Ewijk, a young Dominican from the recently restored Dutch province, who had been sent as a missionary to the Cape in 1852, and Vincent Jandel, the master of the Dominican Order. The vicar apostolic of the Cape, the Irish Dominican Patri...
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"Leyo Apartheid ke beyingagcini laphaya nasecaweni kuphela, ibikhona futhi nasemakhaya" (It was not only in the church that we had to live with Apartheid; it was also in our homes.). Asked about the effect of Apartheid on the church, Nonjabulo, president of the association of Christian women in the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, shifts...
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Based on the oral testimonies of a group of leaders of Zulu-speaking Christian women's organisations (manyano) in Sobantu, Pietermaritzburg, this paper explores the interface between African traditional religion and Christianity. African culture remains an important part of the mental and cultural makeup of these women, however firmly rooted in Chr...
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The purpose of this article is to explore the interface between traditional African religion and Christianity with the help of a special type of source: the oral accounts of a group of Christian women from Sobantu, a south-African township. Can one adhere to the Christian religion without betraying one's African identity? Often, but not always, wit...
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A B S T R A C T The article considers factors that increase the risk for HIV transmission within the South African socio-political context and examines possible reasons for the devastating impact of the pandemic in Southern Africa. Interventions, which might curb the spread of the virus are discussed, with reference to the 'success story' of Uganda...
Book
Dominicans have been in sub-Sahara Africa since the fifteenth century. Today the Order has communities in a dozen African countries. The story is recounted here by many voices, the majority from Africa itself while the rest have had long associations with that continent.
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This work shows how one group of preachers handled such questions over a time-span of 785 years. They integrated into the vocation of preaching the settling of civil disputes and reflecting on money-lending, defending indigenous peoples, developing theories of international law, opposing apartheid.
Book
The purpose of this book is to gather in a single narrative the rather disparate stories of Dominican friars in Southern Africa over the past four centuries. Dominicans from Portugal an Portuguese India were present in South-East Africa from 1577 to 1835. Patrick Raymond Griffith, an Irish Dominican, became the first resident Catholic bishop in Sou...
Book
The editor of this volume of essays by Archbishop Denis Hurley wants to contribute to a better knowledge of the life and ministry of Hurley. The book is dedicaied to Hurley to commemorate a half century of episcopate. Hurley is well known. His reputation has gone far beyond the boundaries of South Africa, not only as an opponent of the segregation...
Book
The conference papers collected in this volume are to be seen as material for a history of indigenous Christianity in Southern Africa which still had to be written. The Pietermaritzburg conference on "the Making of an Indigenous Clergy" was an attempt to explore a theme that has been traditionally neglected in academic research. Its objective was t...
Book
Translation of: God in South Africa. The challenge of the Gospel (Cape Town: David Philip, 1998)
Book
Il est beaucoup question du Christ dans les documents du XVIe siècle. Que l'on songe à Erasme, qui définit une "philosophie du Christ", à Lurher, fameux par sa "théologie de la Croix, à la Compagnie de Jésus. Mais peut-on, sur la base de ces témoignages, écrire une histoire du Christ? Le Christ bénéficiait jusqu'au XVIe siècle d'une reconnaissance...
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Thandazile's story Thandazile 2 is six years old. She is an orphan. Her mother, Sibongile, died of AIDS when she was small. She has two uncles. One is twenty-eight and the other one sixteen. But they are totally incapable of looking after her. She lived with them for some time after her mother's death and they started abusing her. Fortunately, Sibo...
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The paper discusses the state of traditional African religion in post-apartheid South Africa. It argues that since the coming of democracy this form of religion has occupied a more important position in civil society than ever before. The new political situation has created a context that is eminently favourable to the expansion of traditional Afri...
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The article examines how money issues were handled in the Methodist, Anglican, Presbyterian and Congregational churches of South Africa when some of their most prominent indigenous ministers decided to secede in the 1880s and 1890s. Far from being financially incompetent, as suggested in the missionary literature, the first African Independent Chur...

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