AAR Annual Meeting
November 18-21, 2017
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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.
The Afro-American Religious History Unit invites proposals that explore the relationship between religious identity and racial identity in the Americas. For our 2017 annual meeting in Boston, we are especially interested in proposals that engage the following:
• Black, non-protestant religious and sacred traditions in New England and the Northeast, especially Boston, such as The Nation of Islam and Prince Hall Freemasonry.
• The life and legacy of David Walker (1796-1830) and his Appeal (1829), including his affiliations with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Prince Hall Freemasonry, Freedom’s Journal, and his influence upon Black nationalist and Black radical traditions.
• Black female abolitionism and religious activism in New England, including the work done within and supported by in organizations such as (but not limited to) the African American Female Intelligence Society (Boston, 1831), the Female Anti-Slavery Society (Salem, MA-1832); the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society (1833); and the American Anti-Slavery Society (1833), and the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society (1835).
• “Black Boston” as a complex geographic locus for generations of early black activism, including its legacy as birthplace and home to numerous prominent activists (e.g. Maria W. Stewart, Phyllis Wheatley, Harriet Tubman, Eliza Ann Gardner, W.E.B. Du Bois, Howard Thurman, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and others).
• Explorations of Black historical landmarks (such as Lewis and Harriett Hayden house, African Meetinghouse, Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, Black Heritage Trail, the Underground Railroad, etc.), and their sacred histories in the city, with attention to how they challenge dominant perceptions of Boston’s religious history (for a potential co-sponsored session with the Religion and Cities Unit).
• Examinations of the relationship between (and histories of) hate crimes and black religious groups in the United States (for a potential co-sponsored session with the Comparative Approaches to Religion and Violence Unit).
• Papers exploring the intersecting, yet religious ties of slavery, capitalism, and the economy (for a potential co-sponsored session with the Religion and Economy Unit).
• Explorations of relationships between American Religious History and African American religions, particularly through an engagement with new works such as Josef Sorett’s Spirit in the Dark: A Religious History of Racial Aesthetics (2016) and Judith Weisenfeld’s New World A-Coming: Black Religion and Racial Identity During the Great Migration (2017), (for a potential co-sponsored session with the North American Religions Unit).
Successful proposals will clearly identify where the project fits within the Call for Papers, and will speak to its broader implications for African American religious history.