First-person accounts that show the expanding demographics of African-descended religions
“Highlighting both the mystical experiences that drew them to these religions and the intense social relationships that grew from their devotion, twelve white Westerners, Asians, and others without immediate ancestral connections to these Black religions tell the story of why they became devotees and how the secret initiation changed their lives. That is, they have modeled their own struggles against social marginalization, trauma, and alienation not on the religions imposed by the oppressors but on the wisdom of the enslaved and the colonized. This volume contributes brilliantly to our understanding of these dynamic sacred traditions.”—J. Lorand Matory, author of Black Atlantic Religion: Tradition, Transnationalism, and Matriarchy in the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé
“There is a great need for accurate textual information on Afro-diasporic religion to counter erroneous and maligned representations. This book sheds light on the fallacy of these misrepresentations and prejudices. The transatlantic and comparative nature of this collection provides an element of novelty, and the life stories herein are heartfelt and honorable.”—Roberto Strongman, author of Queering Black Atlantic Religions: Transcorporeality in Candomblé, Santería, and Vodou
“A remarkable collection of diverse voices among practitioners of religions of the African diaspora. Each tells a story of a respectful crossing of cultural borders to find a place of belonging and fulfilment. As inspiring as they are informative, each is an eloquent testimony to the healing that these misunderstood traditions provide. An important and invaluable contribution to the appreciation of African-inspired religions and the literature of spiritual quest.”—Joseph M. Murphy, author of Botánicas: Sacred Spaces of Healing and Devotion in Urban America
In this focused portrayal of global dispersal and spiritual sojourning, Martin Tsang draws together first-person accounts of the evolving Afro-Atlantic religious landscape. Spirited Diasporas offers a glimpse into the frequently misunderstood religions of Afro-Cuban Lucumí, Haitian Vodou, and Brazilian Candomblé, adding to the growing research on the transnational yet personal nature of African diasporic religions.
In these accounts, practitioners from many origins illustrate the work and commitment they undertook to learn and become initiated in these traditions. They reveal in the process a variety of experiences that are not often documented. Their perspectives also show the expanding contemporary demographics of African-descended religions, many of whose members identify as LGBTQIA+ or are part of other minoritized populations, and they counter inaccurate and often racialized portrayals of these religions as being antimodern and geographically limited.
Through the voices of the professionals, scholars, and activists gathered here, readers will appreciate the purpose and belonging to be found in the far-reaching communities of these Latin American and Caribbean spiritualities. As the seekers in these stories discover and come home to their new religious families, Spirited Diasporas displays the relevance and generative power of these traditions.
Martin Tsang is a cultural anthropologist with specialization in Caribbean-Asian ethnography and Afro-Atlantic religiosity.
Contributors: Morgan M. Page | Michael Atwood Mason | Eugenia Rainey | Alex Bettencourt | Solimar Otero | Yoshiaki Koshikawa | Belia Mayeno Saavedra | Sue Kucklick-Arencibia | Ivor Miller | Terri-Dawn González | Dr. Martin A. Tsang | Giovanna Capponi | Philippe Charlier
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