Original Research

My father’s tobacco-jar, Church Square Pretoria and Freedom Park: An autoethnographical exploration

Marcel Barnard
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 35, No 2 | a882 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v35i2.882 | © 2014 Marcel Barnard | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 June 2013 | Published: 06 August 2014


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Abstract

Julian Müller, in his advocacy of a narrative theology, has called for an autobiographical theology. In addition to Julian Müller’s plea, the author turned to what may be seen as the liturgical and ritual variant of this method, namely autoethnography. Thus he would honour Julian Müller and his tireless commitment to Practical Theology. Autobiographical and autoethnographical theology do not start from well-ordered and systematically arranged knowledge, but from a life as it has developed and as it is developing in its connections with others. Difference is therefore a keyword in the method. Others and other worlds evoke the consciousness of differences, incite reflections on the cracks, fractures and fissures that show themselves to the self and provoke negotiations with the otherness of the other. Never in his existence as a theologian had the author experienced this process more intensely than in his contacts with colleagues and religious practices in South Africa. It was described in the article how the author became acquainted with South Africa and, more particularly, with its liturgical rituals and visual arts since 2001. The different experiences of successive visits to Church Square in Pretoria functioned as a point of reference in the article. It was shown how the self re-negotiated its position in the world through the confrontation with a totally ‘other’ – in this case, South African liturgical rituals and visual arts. This re-negotiation focused on the Western academic position of the self when confronted with African epistemologies and ontologies.


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