Select an item by clicking its checkbox
Grants cover image

Cultivating Intellectual Patience for the Study of African Diaspora Religions

Awarded Grant
Harvey, Marcus
University of North Carolina - Asheville (UNCA)

Learning Abstract :
This project was conducted at the University of North Carolina, Asheville (UNCA) during the 2017-2018 academic year. The genesis of the project is traceable to a tendency of my students to privilege visual access rather than culturally rooted ideas and cosmologies when learning in tandem about Africa and reconstituted African traditions practiced throughout the Atlantic world. The implicit assumption being that African traditions are sites not of thought but of exotic, titillating performance. The traditions I covered with students include Cuban Santería (southern Nigerian provenance), Brazilian Candomblé (southern Nigerian provenance), Jamaican Obeah, Myal, and Kumina (Ghanaian and Congolese provenance), and Haitian Vodou (Ghanaian, Beninese, Togolese, and Congolese provenance). I bore in mind the complementary, abettive roles of mainstream Western news organs and popular culture in fostering the mythic narrative that present-day Africa can be understood only in terms of "corruption, disease, poverty, war" (Moyo 2009, 151), and demonic jungle magic. Additionally, in shaping students' impressions of the continent, its several hundred people groups, and the various communities making up its diasporas, the need for "intellectual patience" vis-à-vis the study of Africa and African diaspora religions was adduced.
Wabash Center