African Religions in the Americas | May 20-21, 2016

Swift Hall, 1025-35 E 58th St

In “The Forethought” to his 1904 “The Souls of Black Folk” WEB Dubois wrote, “I have sought here to sketch, in vague, uncertain outline the spiritual world in which ten thousand thousand Americans live and strive.” That world, Dubois argued, was inseparable from African Americans’ persistent desire to be both African and American. Dubois and many scholars who followed him variously sought to analyze and interrogate the notion of a linkage between Africa and the Americas and the importance of religion in that relationship. 


Twenty-first century scholarship on African religions in the Americas continues to grapple with many of the same issues, which this conference seeks to explicitly and critically address by turning its gaze to the field itself.  Thus, participants will use their own research to answer questions such as:

·      Does the field of “African religions in the Americas” actually exist?  If so, to what should it address itself?  By what methods, theories, themes, and concerns is it bound and how might those boundaries be in need of re-location?
·      What constitutes the “African” in African religions in the Americas? 
·      How does “Africa” figure as historical reality, religious symbol, and/or an actual or mythical homeland for African religions in the Americas? 
·      What is distinct about the religions of the African diaspora in the Americas?  Can they be studied in the same ways and to the same ends as other religions of the Americas?
·      How has the study of African American religions in the United States complicated the field? 
This conference will be conducted in a workshop-style format, with authors offering a brief (5 minute) introduction to their papers and the bulk of the time spent in discussion.  Attendance in the conference is predicated upon complete and critical engagement with all papers, which should be read in advance of the discussion.  For those interested in attending, please contact Emily Crews at emilydcrews at uchicago dot edu.


  • Michael Amoruso, University of Texas Austin
  • Vaughn Booker, Darthmouth College
  • Ras Michael Brown, Southern Illinois University
  • Emily Suzanne Clark, Gonzaga University
  • Emily D. Crews, University of Chicago Divinity School
  • Brent Crosson, University of Texas Austin
  • Edward Curtis, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
  • Jacob Dorman, University of Kansas
  • Curtis J. Evans, University of Chicago Divinity School
  • Tracey Hucks, Davidson College
  • Stephan Palmie, University of Chicago
  • Alexander Rocklin, WIllamette College
  • Dianne Stewart, Emory University

For more information, and to register >>

Schedule of Events

Friday, May 20th
  • 3-3:30pm Introductory Remarks by Curtis J. Evans (Swift Common Room)
  • 3:45-5pm Session 1
  • 5-5:15pm Break
  • 5:30-6:45pm Session 2
  • 7pm Dinner and Drinks (for participants only)
Saturday, May 21st
  • 8:30-9am Continental Breakfast
  • 9-10:15am Session 3
  • 10:15-10:30am Break
  • 10:30-11:45am Session 4
  • 12-1pm Lunch
  • 1-2:15pm Session 5
  • 2:15-2:30pm Break
  • 2:30-3:45pm Session 6
  • 3:45-4pm Break
  • 4-5pm Closing Remarks and Discussion

 Sponsored by the Martin Marty Center and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture at The University of Chicago.