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ReligionMaterial Dynamics$
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David Chidester

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780520297654

Published to California Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520297654.001.0001

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(p.195) 15 Oceans

David Chidester

University of California Press

This chapter explores the circulations of religion across vast bodies of water. With special attention to the work of Charles H. Long, who has been a cartographer of oceans in the study of religion, this chapter highlights relations and mediations between land and sea. Returning to the fetish and the cargo and placing these contested material objects within the world produced by oceans, the materiality of religion is situated within changing relations between people of the land and people of the sea. Between the mercantile fetish and the virtual cargo, a third object, guano, which was sacred bird excrement in ancient Inca religion, signifying fertility and sovereignty, during the nineteenth century became the nexus of an industrial religion of fertilizer, explosives, and networked islands under European and United States imperial control. Like the fetish and the cargo, guano emerged from an ocean world as a material focus for conflicting religious orientations.

Keywords:   cargo, Charles H. Long, fertility, fetish, guano, Inca religion, materiality, oceans, sacred, sovereignty

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