Spiritual and Social Transformation in African American Spiritual Churches : More than Conjurers book cover
1st Edition

Spiritual and Social Transformation in African American Spiritual Churches
More than Conjurers

ISBN 9780367891084
Published December 12, 2019 by Routledge
182 Pages

USD $48.95

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Book Description

At the core of African American religion’s response to social inequalities has been a symbiotic relationship between socio-political activism and spiritual restoration. Drawing on archival material and ethnographic fieldwork with African American Spiritual Churches in the USA, this book examines how their spiritual and social work can shed light on the interplay between corporate activism and individual spirituality.

This book traces the development of this "politico-spiritual" approach to injustice from the beginning of the twentieth century through the opening decade of the twenty-first century, using the work of African American Spiritual Churches as a lens through which to observe its progression. Addressing subjects such as spiritual healing, support of the homeless, gender equality and the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, it demonstrates that these communities are clearly motivated by the dual concerns of the soul and the community.

This study diversifies our understanding of the African American religious landscape, highlighting an approach to social injustice that conjoins both political and spiritual transformations. As such, it will be of significant interest to scholars of religious studies, African American studies and politics.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Protest or Accommodation: Political Engagement in African American Religion  1 Setting the Agenda: Social Activism in New Orleans’ First Spiritualist Church  2 Mother to the Motherless: Mother Catherine Seal’s Manger for the Homeless  3 Laying on Hands: Healing as a Form of Political Activism and Spiritual Restoration  4 Let the Women Speak: Gender Equality and Self-Empowerment in African American Spiritual Churches  5 After the Storm: The Response of African American Spiritual Churches to Shifting Landscapes in Post-Katrina New Orleans  Conclusion: A Politico-Spiritual Approach to Social Activism: Implications for African American Religion

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Margarita Simon Guillory is an Assistant Professor of Religion at the University of Rochester. She is the co-editor of the volume entitled Esotericism in African American Religious Experience and the co-author of Breaking Bread, Breaking Beats: Churches and Hip Hop—A Basic Guide to Key Issues. In addition to these works, she has published articles in the Journal of Gnostic Studies, Culture and Religion, and Pastoral Psychology.


"Stretching in its historical narrative from Jim Crow to Hurricane Katrina, this book displays the resilience of southern Africana religious traditions while addressing both inter and intra-communal struggles with racism, sexism, classicism, and ageism. Guillory is gifted in her ability to home in on the contemporary implications which lie behind work so rigorously researched and carefully constructed. Guillory refuses the paradigm that separates political approaches from spiritual ones in Africana religious traditions. She shows that there is much to be learned from mining the traditions of Afro-religions which lie at the margins of dominant narratives. This work displays what is revealed when we pivot the center."
-Ambre Dromgoole, Yale University