PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
San Diego, CA
November 23-26, 2019

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Afro-American Religious History Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

The purpose of this Unit is to recover the sources and histories related to the African-American religious experience, to create a forum to explore critically and creatively the history of African-American religions, and to infuse that knowledge into the study of religion within North America. The Unit is committed to the investigation of the diversity of African-American faith traditions and religious experiences.

Call for Papers: 

The Afro-American Religious History Unit invites proposals that explore Black religious legacies old and new. For our 2019 Annual Meeting in San Diego, we are especially interested in proposals that engage one or more of the following:

● The legacy of James Forman’s 1969 “Black Manifesto,” the 2,500 worded call of accountability to American churches, including Riverside Church of New York, where Forman publicly read his charge.

As well as other notable anniversaries including:

The publication of James Cone’s Black Theology and Black Power, 1969 (for possible co-sponsorship with the Black Theology Unit);

● Apollo 11 landing: histories of intersections of race, space, & religion, including especially considerations of the history of Black religion and science fiction;
● Stonewall Riots;

● United States Supreme Court decision in Alexander vs. Holmes (1969) in which the Court ordered immediate desegregation of public schools;

● Black religion and the 1969 explosion of Black studies departments, programs, and curricular interventions across college campuses;

● Intersection of Black religion and politics, including the 1969 founding of the Congressional Black Caucus and political firsts such as Shirley Chisholm’s Congressional election; and

Marking the the Maafa: Narratives, Experiences and Embodiments of Slavery and Incarceration in African Diaspora Religions -
With the 400th anniversary of 1619 upon us (the date of the first recorded landing of enslaved Africans in North America), we are considering presentations that examine slavery and incarceration in relationship to religion in the Afro-Atlantic Diaspora. We are co-sponsoring this session with the African Diaspora Religions Unit. This session is a ROUNDTABLE and not a panel with formal papers. Please submit proposals for brief presentations (5-7 minutes); presentations will be followed by extended discussion among roundtable participants and the gathered audience.

Given the location of the meeting, we are also interested in the historical intersections of religion, race, and environmentalism, the connections between Afro-Asian religions, Afro-Asiatic, and/or Black Trans-Pacific religious connections, Spanish colonial context in the West as well as Africana religions and disability and trauma and Black religion.

Furthermore , we are also open to celebrating newer works in African-American religious history within the past five years, such as LeRhonda Manigault-Bryant’s Talking to the Dead: Religion, Music, and Lived Memory among Gullah-Geechee Women, (2014), Sylvester Johnson’s African American Religions, 1500-2000: Colonialism, Democracy and Freedom, (2015), or Judith Casselberry’s The Labor of Faith: Gender and Power in Black Apostolic Pentecostalism, (2017).

Successful proposals will clearly identify where the project fits within the Call for Papers, and will speak to its broader implications for the study of African American religious history.

Method: 
PAPERS
Process: 
Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members
Leadership: 
ChairSteering Committee