Gerardus van der Leeuw at the Voortrekker 
Monument | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 72, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 2542-6583
  • E-ISSN: 2590-3268



Contributing to current initiatives to reassess European theorists of religion from a postcolonial perspective, this article locates Gerardus van der Leeuw (1890-1950) in South Africa at the inauguration of the Voortrekker Monument, problematizing his phenomenological concept of sacred place. On 16 December 1949 Van der Leeuw gave a speech at the inauguration of the Voortrekker Monument to convey the good wishes of the Dutch to the Afrikaner , celebrating with Afrikaner nationalists their victory over the Zulu king Dingaan more than a century earlier, and sharing the podium with D.F. Malan who had come to power in 1948 introducing more than 
40 years of apartheid in South Africa. The speech is analyzed by relating it to reports that Van der Leeuw wrote on his first visit to South Africa of almost three months in 1947 and his second visit in 1949, as well as pertinent concepts, particularly sacred place, in his phenomenological analyses of religion. By comparing and contrasting Van der Leeuw’s concept of sacred place with David Chidester’s critical concept of sacred place, focusing on the Voortrekker Monument as case study, I will offer a critique of Van der Leeuw’s concept of sacred place from a postcolonial perspective and South African location.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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