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Embodying Black Religions in Africa and Its Diasporas

edited by Yolanda Covington-Ward and Jeanette S. Jouili

Duke University Press, 2021


eISBN: 978-1-4780-1311-2

OA eISBN: 978-1-4780-9234-6

Paper: 978-1-4780-1175-0

Cloth: 978-1-4780-1064-7

About the Book
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
About the Author
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.
“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 otherwordly. 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

“The focus of this theoretically engaged and ethnographically rich book . . . is a body-centered perspective on continental and diasporic African religions, offering valuable insights into the body as a medium of communication that generates knowledge, and the role of the body in producing intersubjectivity and relationality.”

-- Susan Rasmussen Journal of Anthropological Research

"This eloquent anthology takes the study of the Black body in renewed directions, weaving analytics of healing, bodily movement, materiality, energy, and collective knowledge and practices. This volume advances the field of anthropology with a wide range of methodological and theoretical approaches to the study of African diaspora religion, culture, and society. . . . The book is also ideal for teaching undergraduates and graduate students. Undoubtedly, it ought to be of great interest to scholars of religion, particularly African and African diasporic religions, and other interdisciplinary areas within anthropology and beyond such as women, gender and sexuality studies, African and African diaspora studies, ethics, and performance studies."

-- Nessette Falu American Ethnologist

"In their introduction, editors Yolanda Covington-Ward and Jeanette S. Jouili assert that Embodying Black Religions offers a 'substantial contribution' to the study of embodiment and religiosity in Africa and its diasporas. This claim rings modest given the superb quality of all the chapters featured in their beautifully crafted volume that pushes this rapidly changing field forward in several interesting ways, including an attention to relationality and intersubjectivity formed between human and non-human subjects. The contributions are fresh and engaging, and they communicate compelling ethnography on a range of topics that are both urgent and timely. ... A must-read for scholars interested in emergent trends in the study of African and African diasporic religions."

-- Seth Palmer Canadian Journal of African Studies

Religious Cultures of African and African Diaspora People, African diaspora, Religion and culture, African influences, Black Studies (Global), Africa, Cultural & Social, Social aspects, Anthropology, Religion, Social Science
Open Access Information

License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0