African Religions in the Americas

May 20-21, 2016 | Swift Hall


This conference seeks to explicitly and critically address the field of African Religions in the Americas.  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, Dartmouth 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 University
  • Dianne Stewart, Emory University

Schedule of Events 

All Events to Be Held in the Swift Hall Common Room

Friday, May 20th

3-3:30pm            Introductory Remarks

                            Curtis Evans and Emily D. Crews


3:45-5pm            “Afterward: Descent and Alliance in Afro-Atlantic Anthropology,” Stephan Palmie,

                            University of Chicago

                            “That Voodoo That You Don’t Do So Well: The Great Migration’s Black Spiritual

                            Churches and the Limitations of Herskovitsian History," Jacob Dorman,

                            The University of Kansas


5:30-6:45pm       “Confronting Challenges to the Study of African Religions in the Americas

                            and the Caribbean: The Case of Trinidad”

                            Tracey E. Hucks, Davidson College and Dianne M. Stewart, Emory University

                            “African Hindus and the Witchcraft of Hindu Religion in Trinidad," 

                            Alexander Rocklin, Willamette University


Saturday, May 21st

8:30-9am               Continental Breakfast


9-10:15am               “Transnational Black Islam and African Religions in the Americas," 

                                Edward E. Curtis IV, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

                                “‘Royal Ancestry:’ The African Roots of Racial Righteousness,” Vaughn Booker,

                                Dartmouth College


10:30-11:45am       "The Afro of Sai Baba and the Powers of Osain," Brent Crosson,

                                University of Texas, Austin

                                “Mixtures," Michael Amoruso, University of Texas, Austin


12-1pm                     Lunch


1-3pm                      “The Haunting of the African Gods," Emily Suzanne Clark, Gonzaga University

                                 “Notes on Okey Ndibe’s Foreign Gods, Inc," Emily D. Crews, University of

                                 Chicago Divinity School

                                 “The Simbi School for the Study of African Religions in the Americas," 

                                 Ras Michael Brown, Southern Illinois University Carbondale


3:30-4:30pm             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.