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Fundamentals of Fertility: Cosmology and Conversion in a Southwestern Nigerian Town

Publication Abstract

Renne, Elisha. 2002. "Fundamentals of Fertility: Cosmology and Conversion in a Southwestern Nigerian Town." Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 8(3): 551-69.

This article examines the place of religion in the process of 'becoming modern', associated with conversion to Christianity and with literacy, in one Ekiti Yoruba town in southwestern Nigeria. It questions theories of modernization that presume a shift from communal 'traditional' to private, secularized religious practice, focusing on beliefs about the genesis of life, specifically cosmology and fertility. This approach provides a means for examining assumptions about the separation of the secular and religious, evidenced through an examination of local interpretations of biblical texts associated with barrenness and extraordinary births. How these stories have been interpreted by Ekiti Yoruba women and men offers a perspective on the processes whereby forms of 'modern hybrids' are constructed, altered, and reconstructed, as well as on how the fundamental bases of fertility are understood in particular social contexts.

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