The Journal of Africana Religions, which is distributed for free to all ASWAD members, invites 150-word proposals for a special issue on “The Policing and Persecution of African Indigenous and African Diasporic Religions.” Proposals are due by Sept. 30, 2019, to journal@africanareligions.org.  Final articles of 8,000 words or review essays of 5,000 words are due by August 31, 2020 (not 2019). All submissions will be peer-reviewed.

African and African-derived religions such as Vodun, CandombléOrisha devotion, and Lukumí are policed and persecuted across the Black Atlantic world. These Africana religions often draw far more attention in American and European popular consumer culture, anti-cult discourses, and sensational media exposés than they do in carefully curated, analytical spaces of scholarship.

This special issue is devoted to exploring the policing and persecution of indigenous Africana religions–also known as African traditional religions, among other imperfect labels–as a powerful analytic for understanding modern and contemporary politics, society, and culture. Adopting a translocal approach, we invite authors to consider multiple locations, periods, and contexts.

Among the many questions that authors might ask:

  1. Taking a comparative literary approach, how have modern and contemporary fiction, poetry, memoir, and other genres contributed to the policing and persecution of Africana religions?
  2. How have lawmaking and jurisprudence in multiple countries regulated, supported, or persecuted the practice of Africana religions?
  3. What forms of surveillance, harassment, and violence have characterized the policing of Africana religions across the Black Atlantic?
  4. How is the policing of gender and/or sexuality tied to the persecution of Africana religions in multiple locales?
  5. What is the meaning and significance of Africana religions as a foil against which racialized and colonial modernity has been imagined, embodied, and governed?
  6. How have African and African diasporic Christianity and Islam adopted and adapted African-derived spiritual technologies and aesthetics from spirit possession to call-and-response while still seeking to reform or eliminate independent religious communities devoted to Africana epistemologies and doctrines?
  7. What are the economics and/or geopolitics of the policing and persecution of Africana religions?
  8. How does the persecution of Africana religions challenge, reify, or construct racialization, nationalism, or ethnic solidarity in multiple locales?
  9. What is the impact of commodification on Africana religions?
  10. What historical trends or institutional practices have shaped the policing, repression, or persecution of African or African-derived religions since the 1400s?
  11. How have neo-charismatic forms of Christianity shaped the precarity of indigenous African religions in contemporary African societies?
  12. How does engagement with the persecution of African-derived religions complicate the way scholars should theorize the racialization of religion?

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