Black Religion in America (AFRICAAM 242, RELIGST 241, RELIGST 341)
Wells-Oghoghomeh, A. (PI)
Since Africans arrived on North American shores, their religious cultures have anchored them to the traditions of their originating homelands; offered outlets for communal innovation; and structured their responses to the everyday realities of life in the United States. More than a cornerstone of Black American culture, religion has helped to define U.S. African-American identities. At the same time, performances identified with Black religions have transcended racial barriers and become ubiquitous features of the American religious landscape. In this course, we will trace the history of African-descended peoples in the United States through their religious expressions, explore major questions in the study of African-American religions, and analyze representations of African-American religiosity in the popular imagination. Zigzagging across regions and through chronological periods, we will engage primary "texts" ranging from the antebellum "confessions" of Nat Turner to the contemporary rituals of a Vodou priestess, in order to interrogate the questions: "Are there continuities and/or features that mark U.S. Black religions?" "If so, what are they?" "If not, what is the function of the category?" In doing so, we aim to discover the histories of the diverse traditions subsumed under the category of Black religion and register our voices in debates that continue to preoccupy scholars in the field.Undergraduates register for 200-level for 5 units. Graduate students register for 300-level for 3-5 units.
Letter or Credit/No Credit