Skip navigation
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: On Earth as it is in Heaven: Spiritual Racialization and the Atlantic World Economy of Salvation in the Colonial Americas
Authors: Moss, Kelsey Christina
Advisors: Delgado, Jessica
Glaude, Jr., Eddie S.
Contributors: Religion Department
Keywords: Colonialism
Subjects: Religious history
African American studies
Ethnic studies
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation takes a hemispheric approach to analyze the processes by which enslaved Africans were christianized in the earliest phases of encounter and colonization. It argues that through missionary projects, early modern Europeans made evaluations of the salvific potential of enslaved Africans and engaged in processes of spiritual racialization that relegated black potential converts to an inferior spiritual status based on what they perceived to be Africans’ limited spiritual capacities. In contrast to academic accounts that have understood racialization as a secular process that arose in late modernity, this project reveals the inextricable connections between racialization, theological ideas, and religious practices in the early modern period. The first chapter examines the ubiquitous discourses of limited black spiritual capacity that abounded in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries throughout the colonial Americas. It argues that notions of black spiritual inferiority resulted in ideologies and practices of spiritual racialization, based on the soul rather than the body, that were central to the broader formation of processes of racial difference. The following chapters of the dissertation then explore the missionary ideologies and practices of Alonso de Sandoval and Pedro Claver, Antonio Vieira, and Hugh Bryan as a means to examine the processes of spiritual racialization at work in Spanish, Portuguese, and British colonial contexts. Each of these evangelizers was at the forefront of efforts to christianize enslaved Africans, however they simultaneously espoused theologies of limited black spiritual capacity that structured much of their missionary strategies. As a result, they developed christianization methods that established an inferior spiritual status for black souls within the colonial religio-social environment to correspond to the perceived deficiencies of their catechumens. They were prime architects of constructs such as Christian paternalism, slavery and corporal punishment as redemptive processes, and notions of a divinely ordained economy. Using these representative figures, the dissertation reveals the theologies and practices that produced a pervasive Atlantic World economy of salvation that reinforced and systematized beliefs that black souls could only be redeemed through a spiritually dependent colonial relationship with white Christians.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Religion

Files in This Item:
This content is embargoed until 2022-06-08. For more information contact the Mudd Manuscript Library.

Items in Dataspace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.