Accidental Gods: On Men Unwittingly Turned Divine
In Accidental Gods, Anna Della Subin offers expansive narratives of apotheosis – the practice of worshiping men as living gods – and connects them to the creation of the modern world. Drawing on records of deification in territories colonized by Spain, Britain, and America, Subin illustrates how Europeans developed the modern concept of racial hierarchy from ideas of divinity to justify colonization and subjugation. Perhaps not ironically, god-making became necessary to forge nationalist and liberatory movements in post-colonial contexts. Diasporic communities look to gods in their own images to dismantle colonial constructs and fuel nationalist struggles.
The author assumes no prior knowledge, taking care to tell compelling stories in a concise and factual way. The book is elegantly written, flaunting the author’s mastery of theology to problematize the racist roots of present-day Christianity. Subin’s analysis exposes deep-seated biases of the time, noting ethnocentric assumptions about the intentions of native peoples, hopelessly lost in translation of both language and cultural mores.
In my lifelong journey of decolonization, I am grateful for this book. It reinforced the emancipatory power of the decolonial imagination to both create and destroy. Subin connects the spread of Christianity among indigenous populations to white supremacy and racism. For me, the most powerful testimonies are grounded in resistance and dissidence: how colonized peoples used apotheosis to their own advantage by reclaiming divinity.
|Anna Della Subin
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