"A far-reaching anthropological study of African and African American religions, German American folkways, and archaeological methodology."--Leland Ferguson, University of South Carolina
"The notion of 'emblematic' vs. 'instrumental' symbolism provides an exciting new model for analyzing material culture and its meanings for the people who produced it and used it."--Anna Sophia Agbe-Davies, DePaul University
Christopher Fennell offers a fresh perspective on ways that the earliest enslaved Africans preserved vital aspects of their traditions and identities in the New World. He also explores similar developments among European immigrants and the interactions of both groups with Native Americans.
Focusing on extant artifacts left by displaced Africans, Fennell finds that material culture and religious ritual contributed to a variety of modes of survival in mainland North America as well as in the Caribbean and Brazil. Over time, new symbols of culture led to further changes in individual customs and beliefs as well as the creation of new social groups and new expressions of identity.
Presenting insights from archaeology, history, and symbolic anthropology, this book traces the dynamic legacy of the trans-Atlantic diasporas over four centuries, and it challenges existing concepts of creolization and cultural retention. In the process, it examines some of the major cultural belief systems of west and west central Africa, specific symbols of the BaKongo and Yoruba cosmologies, development of prominent African-American religious expressions in the Americas, and the Christian and non-Christian spiritual traditions of German-speaking immigrants from central Europe.
Christopher C. Fennell is associate professor of anthropology and university scholar at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
No Sample Chapter AvailableAwards
JOHN L. COTTER AWARD - 2008
Gustave O. Arlt Award in the Humanities - 2010
"A useful review of the existence and variety of symbols derived from African religions as found in New World settings. Although short, it can serve both in course materials and for an archaeologist finding him or herself with artifacts that may represent such symbols. It also offers some provocative insights into the theory of cultural mixture within African-descended peoples."
--Journal of Anthropological Research
"Crossroads and Cosmologies is appealing because it transcends classic dichotomies in archaeological research (e.g., function and meaning) while considering alternative explanations. . . . Fennell's in-depth exploration of Bakongo history and careful consideration of transcontinental processes of sociocultural movement and interchanges provide a good model for scholars interested in cultural transfer and modification in the Americas."
"An 'excellent achievement' in which the concept of 'ethnogenic bricolage,' is presented as a more complex frame than creolization for capturing the particulars of cultural change."
"The interpretive framework presented in this volume forms a powerful tool for archaeologists."
"This study will have wide application, not only for African diaspora studies, but for any research that addresses the processes of cultural creativuty and innovation."
--Journal of Middle Atlantic Archaeology
"A well-ordered and clearly written contribution on the complexity of identity formation in the Americas."
"A significant contribution to the dynamic field of diaspora studies."
--New West Indian Guide