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African-Atlantic Cultures and the South Carolina Lowcountry


Part of Cambridge Studies on the American South

  • Date Published: March 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107668829

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About the Authors
  • African-Atlantic Cultures and the South Carolina Lowcountry examines perceptions of the natural world revealed by the religious ideas and practices of African-descended communities in South Carolina from the colonial period into the twentieth century. Focusing on Kongo nature spirits known as the simbi, Ras Michael Brown describes the essential role religion played in key historical processes, such as establishing new communities and incorporating American forms of Christianity into an African-based spirituality. This book illuminates how people of African descent engaged the spiritual landscape of the Lowcountry through their subsistence practices, religious experiences and political discourse.

    • The first book-length study that examines the intersection of nature and religion in an African diaspora culture in North America
    • Provides a detailed study of Kongo nature spirits, called simbi, in both Kongo and a part of the African diaspora
    • Addresses the African-based culture of the South-Carolina Lowcountry in fresh ways by covering an overlooked topic, employing neglected sources and relying on innovative methodology
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Brown brings a distinct expertise to scholarship on the religious heritages of African-descended peoples in North America and other regions of the Americas. His contributions to what we now know about the African religious cultures of enslaved Africans and African Americans on the US mainland are unparalleled. Brown breaks with stubborn research practices and assumptive standpoints in African-American religious history to expand our knowledge about African-American religion before the mid-eighteenth century and to rethink some of the established frameworks for interpreting African-American religion since the mid-eighteenth century.' Dianne M. Stewart Diakité, Emory University

    'Prepare to be astounded! … Brown has produced a meticulous reconstruction of the relationship between the people, land, and religious life of the Low Country. This stellar volume transcends the old bromides of Christianization versus retention to render a history of nature [and] religion among African-descended peoples in North America. The implications for the larger realm of Black Atlantic religious history are bold and cataclysmic. Brown traverses archaeology, history, theory, linguistics, and religious studies to produce this highly original and theoretically sophisticated study that will without question shape scholarship on African-Atlantic religions for many years to come.' Sylvester A. Johnson, Northwestern University and co-editor of the Journal of Africana Religions

    'A penetrating analysis of African and African-American agency in the creation of African-American culture in the Carolina Low Country! In this excellent study, Ras Michael Brown combines the narrative skill of the historian with the conceptual rigor of the social scientist to provide one of the most insightful and persuasive arguments concerning the place of Central African spiritual cultural beliefs in the creation of African-American culture in the United States. The book should be read not only by scholars of African-American and American history but by anyone interested in culture and spirituality in the Atlantic world.' Linda M. Heywood, Boston University

    'This important book will be immediately useful to anyone interested in African American cultural and religious history.' Jason R. Young, Journal of American History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107668829
    • length: 322 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.48kg
    • contains: 8 b/w illus. 3 maps 11 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Place, culture, and power
    2. Land of the living
    3. African spirits of the land and water
    4. African landscapes of the Lowcountry
    5. Spiritual guardians in the wilderness
    6. Mermaid histories and power.

  • Author

    Ras Michael Brown, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
    Ras Michael Brown is Assistant Professor of History and Africana Studies at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

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