Embodying Black Religions in Africa and Its Diasporas

Embodying Black Religions in Africa and Its Diasporas

Religious Cultures of African and African Diaspora People

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Book Pages: 360 Illustrations: 20 illustrations Published: September 2021

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Religious Studies

The contributors to Embodying Black Religions in Africa and Its Diasporas investigate the complex intersections between the body, religious expression, and the construction and transformation of social relationships and political and economic power. Among other topics, the essays examine the dynamics of religious and racial identity among Brazilian Neo-Pentecostals, the significance of cloth coverings in Islamic practice in northern Nigeria, the ethics of socially engaged hip hop lyrics by Black Muslim artists in Britain, ritual dance performances among Mama Tchamba devotees in Togo, and how Ifá practitioners from Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Trinidad, and the United States join together in a shared spiritual ethnicity. From possession and spirit-induced trembling to dance, the contributors outline how embodied religious practices are central to expressing and shaping interiority and spiritual lives, national and ethnic belonging, ways of knowing and techniques of healing, and sexual and gender politics. In this way, the body is a crucial site of religiously motivated social action for people of African descent.

Contributors. Rachel Cantave, Youssef Carter, N. Fadeke Castor, Yolanda Covington-Ward, Casey Golomski, Elyan Jeanine Hill, Nathanael J. Homewood, Jeanette S. Jouili, Bertin M. Louis Jr., Camee Maddox-Wingfield, Aaron Montoya, Jacob K. Olupona, Elisha P. Renne


“This groundbreaking book provides insight into how religious communities use expressive practices to unify and find healing. It offers an epistemological shift, recognizing the relevance of corporeality in galvanizing communities while allowing for individualist expressions of relationships to the other-wordly. This volume will make a strong impact in the fields of religious studies, anthropology, performance studies, and African diaspora studies.” — Anita Gonzalez, author of Afro-Mexico: Dancing between Myth and Reality

“This volume makes a unique and important contribution to the study of African diasporic religions giving priority in our analysis—not to the theological nor necessarily the social—but to the embodied and performative nature of religious practice. In this groundbreaking set of essays we learn the ways in which embodied practices inform ideas like empowerment, resistance and survival.” — Marla F. Frederick, author of Colored Television: American Religion Gone Global


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Yolanda Covington-Ward is Associate Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Pittsburgh and author of Gesture and Power: Religion, Nationalism, and Everyday Performance in Congo, also published by Duke University Press.

Jeanette S. Jouili is Associate Professor of Religion at Syracuse University and author of Pious Practice and Secular Constraints: Women in the Islamic Revival in Europe.

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Table of Contents Forthcoming
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Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1175-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1064-7