My Academic Publications
(for fiction click here)
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Then We’ll Sing a New Song is a fascinating examination of how African religions have shaped belief and practices in America. Not just the story of the development of African American religions or the black church, this book tells the often-unrecognized, but important story of how African religions have shaped religion in America more broadly. (More Information)
Santeria: Correcting the Myths and Uncovering the Realities of a Growing Religion. Santeria, also known as Yoruba, Lukumi, or Orisha, was originally brought to the Americas from Africa by enslaved peoples destined for the Caribbean and South America. By the late 1980s it was estimated that more than 70 million African and American people participated in, or were familiar with, the various forms of Santeria, including traditional religions in Africa, Vodun in Haiti, Candomble in Brazil, Shango religion in Trinidad, Santeria in Cuba and, of course, variants of all of these in the U.S. Because of the secretive nature of the religion, it has been difficult to get accurate and objective information, but here, I introduce readers to the religion, explores the basic elements, including the Orisha, and answers the many questions Santeria arouses in observers and practitioners alike. (More Information)
Examining the practices of divination, initiation, possession trance, sacrifice, and witchcraft in successive chapters, I explore the ways in which Santería beliefs and practices deviate from the historical assumptions about and the conceptual implications of these basic concepts. After tracing the standard definition of each term and describing its place within the worldview of Santería, I attempt to tease out its gender implications to argue for the female-normative nature of the religion. By arguing that gender is a fluid concept within Santería, I suggest that the qualities of being female form the ideal of Santeria religious practice for both men and women. (More Information)
“Asho Orisha” suggests that the objects surrounding and the items clothing the Orisha of Santería (also known as Lucumi or Orisha religion) form chains of signifiers tied to the theological and philosophical core of the religion. It focuses on the domestic displays devotees maintain for their deities on a day-to-day basis, the altar displays (thrones) created by devotees for the anniversaries of their initiation into the priesthood, and the body of the new initiate (the iyawo). This work traces the ways in which theological concepts from Africa are redefined and reinterpreted in the Americas so as to maintain a consistent conceptual system in a new environment. It uses a combination of participant-observation, individual interviews and photographic documentation. It includes 13 photographs of altars and clothing.
Now available from UMI Digital Dissertations, request # AAT 9928518.
The Voodoo Encyclopedia: Magic, Ritual, and Religion (2015)
Unlike its fictional depiction in zombie films and popular culture, Voodoo is a full-fledged religion with a pantheon of deities, a priesthood, and communities of believers. Drawing from the expertise of contemporary practitioners, this encyclopedia presents the history, culture, and religion of Haitian Vodou and Mississippi Valley Voodoo. Though based primarily in these two regions, the reference looks at Voodoo across several cultures and delves into related religions, including African Vodu, African Diasporic Religions, and magical practices like hoodoo.
Through roughly 150 alphabetical entries, the work describes various aspects of Voodoo in Louisiana and Haiti, covering topics such as important places, traditions, rituals, and items used in ceremonies. Contributions from scholars in the field provide a comprehensive overview of the subject from various perspectives and address the deities and ceremonial acts. The book features an extensive collection of primary sources and a selected, general bibliography of print and electronic resources suitable for student research.
Esotericism in African American Religious Experience: “There is a Mystery” …, (2014)
In Esotericism in African American Religious Experience: “There is a Mystery” …, Stephen C. Finley, Margarita Simon Guillory, and Hugh R. Page, Jr. assemble twenty groundbreaking essays that provide a rationale and parameters for Africana Esoteric Studies (AES): a new trans-disciplinary enterprise focused on the investigation of esoteric lore and practices in Africa and the African Diaspora. The goals of this new field — while akin to those of Religious Studies, Africana Studies, and Western Esoteric Studies — are focused on the impulses that give rise to Africana Esoteric Traditions (AETs) and the ways in which they can be understood as loci where issues such as race, ethnicity, and identity are engaged; and in which identity, embodiment, resistance, and meaning are negotiated.