The purpose of this Unit is to recover the sources and histories related to the religious experiences of African-descended people in the United States; challenge, nuance, and expand theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of African-American religions; and create forums for critical, creative, and collaborative engagement with new scholarship in the field. The Unit is committed to the historical investigation of the diversity of U.S. African-Americans' religious experiences across chronological periods.
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Afro-American Religious History Unit
Call for Proposals
The Afro-American Religious History Unit invites proposals that explore the religiosity of African-descended people within the geographical and geo-cultural boundaries of the United States. For our 2022 Annual Meeting in Denver, we are especially interested in proposals that engage one or more of the following topics:
Retheorizations of methods and methodologies in the study of Black religion, specifically:
● New theories and methods in the study of African-American religious practices;
● Reconceptualizations of the “Black religious” paradigm;
● Digital Humanities’ impact on the study of Black religion;
● New approaches to the idea of “respectabilities” in black religious practices;
● Highlights and critiques of the archives of black religion.
A “state of the field” panel highlighting the theories/methods/sources/approaches of newer works in African-American religious history, including Vaughn Booker’s (2020), Jamil Drake’s (2022), Nicole Myers Turner’s (2020), Richard Brent Turner’s (2021), and Alexis Wells-Oghoghomeh’s (2021).
African-American Religion and climate catastrophe, broadly configured, particularly:
● Historical topics that elucidate contemporary environmental landscapes and futures, especially in light of climate catastrophe and its impact on Black communities;
● the legacies and impacts of migration patterns and how they have and continue to shape practitioners of African-American religions.
Black Religion in the West, specifically:
● Historic movement to, and practices of, African-American religions in the West;
● Interactions with and conversations about relationships with Indigenous communities and their religious practices in the West by black religious practitioners.
African-American Religion and so called “illicit” practices, specifically:
● Black religious communities, carceral systems, and the (de)criminalization of recreational substance use;
● Histories of African-American religion and narcotic use, broadly configured (ritual, recreational, medicinal, etc.);
● Black religious communities and religious activism in relation to the history of other practices criminalized or deemed illicit.
Redressing the historiographical dearth of LGBTQI+ African American religious histories, specifically:
● The theoretical possibilities of queering African American religion;
● The historical presence of gender nonconformity, gender fluidity, and a spectrum of sexualities physically and conceptually within Black religious communities;
● The methodological and theoretical limitations of heteronormativity and gender normativity.
Retheorizations of the geographical and cultural boundaries of African-American Religion in relationship to the concept of Borderlands, specifically:
● Afro-Spanish, Afro-Indigenous, and other “hybrid” religiosities;
● Concepts of space, the embodiment of space, and boundaries in African-American religion;
● Black religions among asylum seekers and within immigrant communities in America/The impact of immigration upon enactments and definitions of African American religion.
Intellectual Trajectories in the Study of African-American Religion: Highlighting Graduate Student Work:
● Potential presenters should create proposals for five to seven minute presentations
We also invite creative proposals that are attentive to alternative methods of presenting, including but not limited to multimedia presentations, interviews, flash/micro talks, and facilitated discussions.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Judith Casselberry, Bowdoin College1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Matthew Cressler, College of Charleston1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
Ahmad Greene-Hayes, Princeton University1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
Laura McTighe, Florida State University1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
Nicole Myers Turner, Yale University1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027
Alexia Williams, University of Illinois1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027