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The Nuwaubian Nation takes the reader on a journey into an African-American spiritual movement. The United Nuwaubian Nation has changed shape since its inceptions in the 1970s, transforming from a Black Hebrew mystery school into a Muslim utopian community in Brooklyn, N.Y.; from an Egyptian theme park into an Amerindian reserve in rural Georgia. This book follows the extraordinary career of Dwight York, who in his teens started out in a New York street gang, but converted to Islam in prison. Emerging as a Black messiah, York proceeded to break the Paleman’s spell of Kingu and to guide his people through a series of racial/religious identities that demanded dramatic changes in costume, gender roles and lifestyle. Dr. York’s Blackosophy is analyzed as a new expression of that ancient mystical worldview, Gnosticism. Referring to theories in the sociology of deviance and media studies, the author tracks the escalating hostilities against the group that climaxed in a Waco-style FBI raid on the Nuwaubian compound in 2002. In the ensuing legal process we witness Dr. York’s dramatic reversals of fortune; he is now serving a 135-year sentence as his Black Panther lawyer prepares to take his case to the Supreme Court. This book presents fresh and important insights into racialist spirituality and the social control of unconventional religions in America.
’Susan Palmer’s book, The Nuwaubian Nation: Black Spirituality and State Control, is a fascinating, well-written and informative study of one of the most interesting and complex Afro-American New Religious Movements in the United States, the Nuwaubian nation… All in all the critical approach and thorough methodology adopted by Palmer makes this book a strong academic publication that has the potential to become a reference work in the fields of religious studies, ethnography, anthropology, Afro-American history and religion, and law.’ Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review 'This is a well-written book that could be profitably used in classes in new religious movements to provide a springboard for discussions of charisma, leadership, the anti-cult movement, and other issues… The Nuwaubian Nation is an important contribution to the ethnographic literature on new religious movements.' Journal of Contemporary Religion 'Palmer thoughtfully wrestles with one of the most distinctive and controversial contemporary black religious communities, and provides insights and analysis useful to scholars of American religions and new religious movements alike.' Nova Religio ’This volume is an important contribution to the ethnographic study of new religious communities […] Effective use of apostate interviews, local press cuttings and interviews with law enforcement agencies and legal counsels ensure also that Palmer is successful in overstanding� the Nuwaubians, not from an apologetic stance, nor from a blatantly reductionist establishment� stance, but by providing a much needed commentary and evaluation of this controversial and noteworthy movement.’ Fieldwork in Religion
Contents: Preface: 'overstanding' the Nuwaubians; 'Don't believe me, check it out for yourself!'; Holy madness, crazy wisdom; The Ansaaru Allah community; Tama Re and the FBI raid on a 'sovereign nation'; Dr York's trials; Regressing into the millennium; Black Messiahs in America: religious leaders or racketeers?; Bibliography; Index.
The popularity and significance of New Religious Movements is reflected in the explosion of related articles and books now being published. This series offers an invaluable resource and lasting contribution to the field.