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AAR Annual Meeting
Denver, CO
November 17-20, 2018

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CO-SPONSORED SESSION: African Diaspora Religions Unit and African Association for the Study of Religion

Call for Papers: 

Responses to Violence against African Diaspora Religions: Brazil and Beyond

Religions of African origin, both on the continent and in the diaspora, have long been targeted, exoticized, and demonized by Protestant, Catholic, and even Muslim ritual communities that are often more closely aligned with the structures of political and economic power in a given society. In recent years, attacks on African-based ritual traditions have become increasingly violent with the growth of neo-evangelical religious movements. In Brazil, for example, Candomblé temples and Umbanda centers have been invaded and altars desecrated or destroyed. Leaders and practitioners of African-based religions have been attacked and some have died as a result of assaults that are almost always connected to neo-evangelical Protestant congregations whose teachings include the idea that Afro-Brazilian religions are a form of “devil-worship.” A profound anti-Blackness is at the root of these attacks on indigenous, African-based religious expressions; and as a highly visible white supremacy becomes increasingly normalized in the US context, it seems important to examine, critique and imagine effective responses. On the African continent, Evangelicals (particularly Pentecostal and Charismatic pastors) berate African Religions as "ancestral cults" and explicitly teach their members that they remain poor because of these religious traditions.
In the midst of this disturbing picture, there have been some interesting reconciliative actions on the part of Christian congregations in Brazil who are appalled at the treatment of Afro-Brazilian ritual communities. Also, numerous grassroots protest marches in support of religious tolerance and respect for African-based religions have been organized by participants in Candomblé. While Brazil is one of the countries where violence against indigenous, African-based religions has been most marked, we are equally interested in presentations that explore this phenomenon (and creative responses to the violence) on the African continent itself and elsewhere in the diaspora. 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.

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ChairSteering Committee