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Title: Gods of the Flesh: Religion, Sexuality, and Circum-Caribbean Migration in Black New Orleans, 1900-1940
Authors: Greene-Hayes, Ahmad
Advisors: Weisenfeld, Judith
Contributors: Religion Department
Keywords: African American religious history
black religion
new orleans
Subjects: African American studies
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation examines the Black Atlantic religious cultures and sexual politics that emerged in New Orleans, Louisiana—a vibrant, American port city—amidst the migration of African Americans, West Indians, and Central Americans to the region in the early twentieth century. It draws upon untapped social scientific, legal, police, city, photographic, and other relevant records relating largely to non-Christian Black Atlantic religions in New Orleans and it argues that Southern migrants participated in “Black Atlantic religion-making,” or the intentional practice of legitimizing and self-authenticating new and rescripted religions in the face of state violence. In this vein, the dissertation calls for scholars of African American religions to consider the place of the South and the role of Southerners who remained in the South during the era of the Great Migration, as the project’s sources demonstrate the network of circum-Caribbean migration and South-to-South movement in and beyond New Orleans. Further, the dissertation troubles the assumed Catholicity of New Orleans and the overemphasized trope of commercialized voodoo which has animated both the historiography and dominant narratives about the city. The dissertation does so by engaging African American Protestant churches or “the Negro church” along with individuals and institutions relegated to the racialized and sexualized category of the “Negro cult.” To accomplish this, part one examines Jim Crow legal sanctions against Black Atlantic religions and how Black people cultivated their own religions and sexual politics despite these legal conditions. The second part examines racializing discourses imbricated in these religions and highlights people of African descent’s intellectual engagement with “Black transnational theologies,” or the Blackening of God vis-à-vis a theologized connection to the sacred geography of continental Africa. Taken together, the dissertation uncovers the complex web of religion, race, and sexuality in the making and unmaking of the Jim Crow racial caste system and in the formation of newly rescripted Black Atlantic religions in the afterlife of chattel slavery in the Americas.
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

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