The people's Zion : southern Africa, the United States, and a transatlantic faith-healing movement

Cabrita, Joel, 1980- author

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  • Creator Joel Cabrita
  • Format Books
  • Publication Cambridge, Massachusetts : The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2018.
  • Physical Details
    • 356 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
  • ISBNs 9780674737785, 0674737784
  • OCLC on1002826260


  • Until now, the remarkable transatlantic story of Southern Africa's largest popular religious phenomenon has never been told. The People's Zion is the history of the Zionist movement: a vast federation of thousands of African churches which identifies itself with the original faith-healing 'Zionist' church founded in the American Midwest (unrelated to Jewish Zionism). The story starts when Zionists in Chicago - largely socially-marginalized northern European immigrants and African-Americans - founded a utopian community in 1900 called 'Zion City'. Rejecting the idea that medical professionals were uniquely equipped to deal with ill-health, residents embraced faith healing instead of bio-medicine. Zion City also became well-known as one of the first multi-racial religious communities in the USA. Circulated to South Africa via missionaries and the church's literature, the Zionist movement thrived amongst white and black workers drawn to the city of Johannesburg by the discovery of gold. In Johannesburg as in Chicago, these early devotees of faith healing hoped for a color-blind society.--


  • Includes bibliographical references and index.


  • Temperance, divine healing and urban reform in nineteenth-century Australia -- Christian cosmopolitanism and Zion City in the American midwest -- Unity and division in early twentieth-century Johannesburg and in transatlantic Zion -- Zion's egalitarian promises in the Transvaal and Orange River colony, South Africa -- Sectarian creativity and populist prophets in interwar Johannesburg -- Cosmopolitanism, ethnicity and migrant labor networks in southern African Zion -- Youthful reformers and the politics of bible schools in the kingdom of Swaziland
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