Africas of the Americas: Beyond the Search for Origins in the Study of Afro-Atlantic Religions

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The anthropology and history of African American religious formations has long been dominated by approaches aiming to recover and authenticate the historical transatlantic continuities linking such traditions to identifiable African source cultures. While not denying such continuities, the contributors to this volume seek to transcend this research agenda by bracketing “Africa” and “African pasts” as objective givens, and asking instead what role notions of “Africanity” and “pastfulness” play in the social and ritual lives of historical and contemporary practitioners of Afro-Atlantic religious formations. The volume’s goal is to open up contextually salient claims to “African origins” to empirical scrutiny, and so contribute to a broadening of the terms of debate in Afro-Atlantic studies.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
" ... the value of this book is at least two-fold.: It is at once a counterparadigm to traditional Afro-Americanist religious studies and a subtle but sharp critique of what Vassos Argyrou has called the “ethnological predicament” (2002: 2), that in having traditionally placed themselves as the arbitrors of ‘difference’, anthropologists have implicitly claimed for themselves an ahistorical observer’s perspective they clearly do not occupy, in either ideological or practical terms."
Diana Espirito Santo, Institute de Ciencias Sociais, Universidade de Lisboa. (Religion and Society: Advances in Research, 2010)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Stephan Palmié, Ph.D. (University of Munich, 1989) is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. He is the author of Das Exil der Götter (1991) and Wizards and Scientists: Explorations in Afro-Cuban Modernity and Tradition (2002).
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Table of Contents

Introduction On Predications of Africanity Stephan Palmie Palmie, Stephan 1

On Leaving and Joining Africanness Through Religion: The 'Black Caribs' Across Multiple Diasporic Horizons Paul Christopher Johnson Johnson, Paul Christopher 39

From Igbo Israeli to African Christian: The Emergence of Racial Identity in Olaudah Equiano's Interesting Narrative James Sidbury Sidbury, James 79

Governing Man-Gods: Spiritism and the Struggle for Progress in Republican Cuba Reinaldo L. Roman Roman, Reinaldo L. 107

Divining the Past: The Linguistic Reconstruction of African' Roots in Diasporic Ritual Registers and Songs Kristina Wirtz Wirtz, Kristina 141

Ecue's Atlantic: An Essay in Methodology Stephan Palmie Palmie, Stephan 179

Dona Preta's Trek to Cachoeira Brian Brazeal Brazeal, Brian 223

Transatlantic Dialogue: Roger Bastide and the African American Religions Stefania Capone Capone, Stefania 255

Peasants, Migrants and the Discovery of African Traditions: Ritual and Social Change in Lowland Haiti Karen E. Richman Richman, Karen E. 293

African Accents, Speaking Child Spirits and the Brazilian Popular Imaginary: Permutations of Africanness in Candomble Elina Hartikainen Hartikainen, Elina 323

Free to Be a Slave: Slavery as Metaphor in the Afro-Atlantic Religions J. Lorand Matory Matory, J. Lorand 351

Index 381

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