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.
Introduces readers to the cultures of three African kingdoms that contributed significant numbers of their population to the African slave trade, and also profoundly shaped religion in America—the Kingdom of Kongo, the Oyo Empire, and the Kingdom of Dahomey. Each of these groups has a unique history within the long history of the Atlantic slave trade and interacts with the Americas at a specific point in history. Clark shows how each may have had an influence on contemporary American beliefs and culture, sometimes in surprising ways. The book features a glossary, timeline, and maps. [more]
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. Today there are practitioners around the world including Europe and Asia. Because of the secretive nature of the religion, it has been difficult to get accurate and objective information, but here, Clark introduces readers to the religion, explores the basic elements, including the Orisha, and answers the many questions Santeria arouses in observers and practitioners alike.
While much theological thinking assumes a normative male perspective, this study demonstrates how our ideas of religious beliefs and practices change in the light of gender awareness. Exploring the philosophy and practices of the Orisha traditions (principally the Afro-Cuban religious complex known as Santería) as they have developed in the Americas, Clark suggests that, unlike many mainstream religions, these traditions exist within a female-normative system in which all practitioners are expected to take up female gender roles.
Examining the practices of divination, initiation, possession trance, sacrifice, and witchcraft in successive chapters, Clark explores 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, Clark teases out its gender implications to argue for the female-normative nature of the religion. By arguing that gender is a fluid concept within Santería, Clark suggests that the qualities of being female form the ideal of Santeria religious practice for both men and women. In addition, she asserts that the Ifa cult organized around the male-only priesthood of the babalawo is an independent tradition that has been incompletely assimilated into the larger Santería complex.
- “Santería and Voudon.” In Encyclopedia of New York State, edited by Peter Eisenstadt. Albany, New York: Syracuse University Press, 2002.
- “Santería, Material Culture.” InEncyclopedia of African and African-American Religion, edited by Stephen D. Glazier. New York: Routledge, 2000.
- “Santería.” Sects, Cults, and Spiritual Communities: A Sociological Analysis. Eds. William W. Zellner and Marc Petrowski. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 1998. 118–130.
- Article on Black Spiritual Churches in There Is a Mystery: Esotericism, Gnosticism, and Mysticism in African American Religious Experience, Stephen C. Finley, Margarita Simon Guillory, Hugh R. Page (eds) (in preparation)
- Articles on Espiristimo, Palo Myombe, Rada, Santeria, and Santerismo for African American Religious Cultures. ABC-CLIO, INC., 2009.
- “Santería Sacrificial Rituals: A Reconsideration of Religious Violence.” The Pomegranate 8:2 (2006); 133-145.
- “Godparenthood in the Afro-Cuban Religious Tradition of Santería,” Journal of Religious Studies and Theology 22:1 (2003): 45–62.
- “You Are (Not) Shango: Jungian Archetypes in Contemporary Santería.” Wadabagei. A Journal of the Caribbean and its Diaspora5 (1 2002): 105–135.
- “¡No Hay Ningun Santo Aqui! (There are No Saints Here!): Symbolic Language within Santería.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 69 (1 2001): 21–41.
- “Orisha Worship Communities: A Reconsideration of Organizational Structure,” Religion, an Academic Press Journal, 30 (4 2000): 379-389.
- “Seven African Powers: Hybridity and Appropriation,” Material History of American Religion Project, http://www.materialreligion.org.
- “Secret Language of the Orisha.” Proceedingsof the Association for the Scientific Study of Religion, (March, 1999).
- “Theological Displays on Santería Altars.” Proceedingsof the Association for the Scientific Study of Religion, (March, 1998): 1–23.
- “The Santa Barbara Phenomena: Ambiguity in Yoruba-based Religion.” Proceedingsof the Association for the Scientific Study of Religion, (March, 1997): 48–61.
- With Edith Wyschogrod and Elizabeth Burr. “Integrating the Net into the Religious Classroom: Some Notes from the Field.” Religious Studies News 10.2 (May 1995): 23–24. (See http://www.aar-site.org/scripts/ AAR/members/classnet.html).
- “Like a Drop of Rain, Flowing to the Ocean: Death and Dying in Contemporary Neo-Paganism.” Proceedingsof the Association for the Scientific Study of Religion, (March, 1995): 24–49.