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A Practical Conclusion

I have justified the study of Indigenous Religions in this book on a number of grounds. On the most basic level, I have contended that it defines a crucial scholarly category by incorporating a wide spectrum of human activities that otherwise would be ignored in academic research. I have also contended that without some way of classifying the religions of indigenous societies, a highly significant number of the world’s population would be omitted from research in religious studies, although such societies might be covered from the perspectives of other disciplines, such as anthropology or sociology. My argument asserts that scholars of religion, who conventionally study the ‘world religions’, have every academic right, and even an intellectual duty, to pay attention to the religious beliefs and practices of indigenous peoples. I have sought to clarify why this is so by defining indigenous and religion in particular ways, and by exemplifying these through my case studies. In the process, I have sought to dismantle the essentialist assumptions inherent in the world religions paradigm, and the ways the study of Indigenous Religions in recent publications have been incorporated into that paradigm. I have also challenged many of the presuppositions of the pioneers in the study of Indigenous Religions, like E.G. Parrinder and Andrew Walls, although I have supported fully their innovative contributions to the field, including the visionary taught master’s course Walls and Harold Turner introduced in the University of Aberdeen in 1976 on ‘Religion in Primal Societies’.