Original Research - Special Collection: Major Theorists of Religion

Movement, space and the logic of the gift: Reflections on Milbank and the African religious archive

Sepetla Molapo
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 2 | a6797 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i2.6797 | © 2021 Sepetla Molapo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 May 2021 | Published: 19 October 2021

About the author(s)

Sepetla Molapo, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Humanities, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


This article reflects on how the contemporary relationship between movement and space can be reversed so that movement regains priority over space in the experience of life. Its key argument is that movement has potential to take priority over space but only via the logic of the gift. The logic of the gift has potential to undermine the privilege colonial modernity accords to space over movement because its conception of exchange challenges exchange as a construct of economic logic central to the experience of modernity. The article focuses on the gift as is found in the work of John Milbank and the African religious archive. It tries to show that along with Milbank’s imagination of the gift, the gift as a construct of the African religious archive stands to contribute in the fight against the continuing alienation brought about by the project of modernity. This is because it imagines the sacred dimension primarily via the terrain of the family.

Contribution: This article contributes to a reading of capitalism via the logic of the gift as a construct of the African religious archive and does so by borrowing from the work of theologians. In doing so, it tries to present a different way of thinking about gift giving in relation to the African religious expression, which has until the recent past been dominated by anthropologists.


gift; community; space; movement; capitalism


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