Posts Tagged ‘Race’

Selka, “Cityscapes and contact zones”

July 25, 2013

Selka, Stephen. 2013. Cityscapes and contact zones: Christianity, Candomble, and African heritage tourism in Brazil. Religion 43(3): 403-420.

Abstract: In this article the author explores the ways in which Catholic, evangelical, and Candomblé actors produce competing framings that shape encounters taking place in the city of Cachoeira in the Brazilian state of Bahia. The framing of Cachoeira as a site of heritage tourism – one where local religious practices are read as part of the African heritage and attractions for African American ‘roots tourists’ – obscures as much as it reveals. This is not to suggest that this framing is entirely inaccurate or to deny that many visitors themselves describe their trips to Bahia this way. But I contend that the ‘heritage frame’ masks key issues that complicate diasporic encounters in Cachoeira, particularly different understandings of heritage and religion and their relationship to black identity that African Americans and Afro-Brazilians bring to these encounters.

Park, “When Diversity Drops”

July 23, 2013

Park, Julie J. 2013. When Diversity Drops: Race, Religion, and Affirmative Action in Higher Education. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Publisher’s Description: Julie J. Park examines how losing racial diversity in a university affects the everyday lives of its students. She uses a student organization, the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) at “California University,” as a case study to show how reductions in racial diversity impact the ability of students to sustain multiethnic communities.

The story documents IVCF’s evolution from a predominantly white group that rarely addressed race to the most racially diverse campus fellowship at the university. However, its ability to maintain its multiethnic membership was severely hampered by the drop in black enrollment at California University following the passage of Proposition 209, a statewide affirmative action ban.

Park demonstrates how the friendships that students have—or do not have—across racial lines are not just a matter of personal preference or choice; they take place in the contexts that are inevitably shaped by the demographic conditions of the university. She contends that a strong organizational commitment to diversity, while essential, cannot sustain racially diverse student subcultures. Her work makes a critical contribution to our understanding of race and inequality in collegiate life and is a valuable resource for educators and researchers interested in the influence of racial politics on students’ lives.

Cannell, “The Blood of Abraham”

April 1, 2013

Cannell, Fenella. 2013. The Blood of Abraham: Mormon redemptive physicality and American idioms of kinship. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 19(s1):77-94.

Abstract: For Latter-day Saints, blood is one important idiom of kinship, and of Christian worship, but not in the ways one might expect. This paper asks how the logic of the resurrected and ‘perfected’ body inhabits both registers, beginning with the surprisingly ‘bloodless’ LDS Sacrament Service. I then explore the paths by which Latter-day Saints navigate meanings of blood kinship in tension, especially attribution to the ‘Abrahamic lineages’. I argue, in agreement with Armand Mauss, that contemporary Mormonism has largely shed racist readings of ‘blood’, but suggest that both lineage and cognatic kinship as mystery remain salient through a ‘reduplicative logic’ which collapses physical inheritance, agency, and revelation. This illuminates both similarities to and differences from conservative American Protestant positions, including understandings of the life of the unborn fetus and the rights and wrongs of stem cell research.

Burdick, “The Color of Sound”

March 25, 2013

Burdick, John. 2013. The Color of Sound: Race, Religion, and Music in Brazil. New York: NYU Press.

Publisher’s Description: Throughout Brazil, Afro-Brazilians face widespread racial prejudice. Many turn to religion, with Afro-Brazilians disproportionately represented among Protestants, the fastest-growing religious group in the country. Officially, Brazilian Protestants do not involve themselves in racial politics. Behind the scenes, however, the community is deeply involved in the formation of different kinds of blackness—and its engagement in racial politics is rooted in the major new cultural movement of black music.

In this highly original account, anthropologist John Burdick explores the complex ideas about race, racism, and racial identity that have grown up among Afro-Brazilians in the black music scene. By immersing himself for nearly a year in the vibrant worlds of black gospel, gospel rap, and gospel samba, Burdick pushes our understanding of racial identity and the social effects of music in new directions. Delving into the everyday music-making practices of these scenes, Burdick shows how the creative process itself shapes how Afro-Brazilian artists experience and understand their racial identities. This deeply detailed, engaging portrait challenges much of what we thought we knew about Brazil’s Protestants,provoking us to think in new ways about their role in their country’s struggle to combat racism.

Austin, “Quaker Brotherhood”

January 20, 2013

Austin, Allan W. 2012. Quaker Brotherhood: Interracial Activism and the American Friends Service Committee, 1917-1950. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Publisher’s Description: The Religious Society of Friends and its service organization, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), have long been known for their peace and justice activism. The abolitionist work of Friends during the antebellum era has been well documented, and their contemporary anti-war and anti-racism work is familiar to activists around the world. Quaker Brotherhood is the first extensive study of the AFSC’s interracial activism in the first half of the twentieth century, filling a major gap in scholarship on the Quakers’ race relations work from the AFSC’s founding in 1917 to the beginnings of the civil rights movement in the early 1950s.

Allan W. Austin tracks the evolution of key AFSC projects, such as the Interracial Section and the American Interracial Peace Committee, that demonstrate the tentativeness of the Friends’ activism in the 1920s, as well as efforts in the 1930s to make scholarly ideas and activist work more theologically relevant for Friends. Documenting the AFSC’s efforts to help European and Japanese American refugees during World War II, Austin shows that by 1950 Quakers in the AFSC had honed a distinctly Friendly approach to interracial relations that combined scholarly understandings of race with their religious views.

In tracing the transformation of one of the most influential social activist groups in the United States over the first half of the twentieth century, Quaker Brotherhood presents Friends in a thoughtful, thorough, and even-handed manner. Austin portrays the history of the AFSC and race–highlighting the organization’s boldness in some aspects and its timidity in others–as an ongoing struggle that provides a foundation for understanding how shared agency might function in an imperfect and often racist world.

Highlighting the complicated and sometimes controversial connections between Quakers and race during this era, Austin uncovers important aspects of the history of Friends, pacifism, feminism, American religion, immigration, ethnicity, and the early roots of multiculturalism.

Goluboff, “Making African American Homeplaces”

October 24, 2011

Goluboff, Sascha L. 2011. Making African American Homeplaces in Rural Virginia. Ethos 39(3):368-394.

Abstract: In this article, I propose that anthropologists of Christianity broaden their understanding of emotion to include intense attachments to home and kin as central to cultivating faith. I use examples from my research with African Americans who continue to live on land purchased by their emancipated ancestors and attend a United Methodist church established by those same ancestors in rural Western Virginia. I suggest that theoretical attention to this worldly home, as well as to God, is key to understanding the process of belief. It opens up the possibility of seeing emotional connection as a catalyst for political awareness and change, and it also brings gender and generational relations into sharp focus. Ultimately, I argue that the maintenance of such African American religious and secular homeplaces works to challenge the legacies of racism in the rural South.

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