Crossroads And Cosmologies

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Christopher Fennell offers a fresh perspective on ways that the earliest enslaved Africans preserved vital aspects of their traditions and identities in the New World. He also explores similar developments among European immigrants and the interactions of both groups with Native Americans.

Focusing on extant artifacts left by displaced Africans, Fennell finds that material culture and religious ritual contributed to a variety of modes of survival in mainland North America as well as in the Caribbean and Brazil. Over time, new symbols of culture led to further changes in individual customs and beliefs as well as the creation of new social groups and new expressions of identity.

Presenting insights from archaeology, history, and symbolic anthropology, this book traces the dynamic legacy of the trans-Atlantic diasporas over four centuries, and it challenges existing concepts of creolization and cultural retention. In the process, it examines some of the major cultural belief systems of west and west central Africa, specific symbols of the BaKongo and Yoruba cosmologies, development of prominent African-American religious expressions in the Americas, and the Christian and non-Christian spiritual traditions of German-speaking immigrants from central Europe.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813034966
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida
  • Publication date: 1/1/2007
  • Series: Cultural Heritage Studies
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher C. Fennell, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has contributed to The Archaeology of Atlantic Africa and the African Diaspora.
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Table of Contents

List of Figures     xi
Editor's Foreword   Paul A. Shackel     xiii
Foreword   Robert Farris Thompson     xvii
Acknowledgments     xxi
Introduction: Diasporas, Histories, and Heritage     1
From the Diminutive to the Transatlantic     15
Shared Meanings and Culture Dynamics     26
Core Symbols across a Continuum     28
A Core Symbol of the BaKongo Culture     31
Marking Social Group Contours     33
Expressions of Group Identity and Individual Purpose     38
A Model for Diaspora Analysis     43
Interpreting Cultural Expressions through Ethnohistorical Analogy     46
BaKongo Culture in West Central Africa     51
Predicting Facets of Symbolic Expression in New Settings     64
African Diasporas and Symbolism in the New World     68
Private Rituals in North America     68
Yoruba and BaKongo Dynamics in Cuba     83
Innovation of New Emblems in Haiti and Brazil     87
Afro-Christian Dynamics in North America     92
European Diasporas and the Persistence of Magic     96
From the Palatinate to Virginia     96
Hexerei Practices among German-Americans     106
Social Networks and Interpersonal Conflicts     113
Expressions Instrumental and Emblematic     123
Creolization, Hybridity, and Ethnogenic Bricolage     127
Bibliography     133
Index     159
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