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African American Studies

The Discipline and Its Dimensions

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Nathaniel Norment, Jr.

African American Studies: The Discipline and Its Dimensions is a comprehensive resource book that recounts the development of the discipline of African American Studies and provides a basic reference source for sixteen areas of knowledge of the discipline: anthropology, art, dance, economics, education, film, history, literature, music, philosophy, psychology, religion, sociology, political science, science and technology, sports and religion. African American Studies defines bodies of knowledge, methodologies, philosophies, disciplinary concepts, contents, scope, topics scholars have concerned themselves, as well as the growth, development, and present status of the discipline. African American Studies validates that African American Studies is a unique and significant discipline—one that intersects almost every academic discipline and cultural construct—and confirms that the discipline has a noteworthy history and a challenging future. The various bodies of knowledge, the philosophical framework, methodological procedures, and theoretical underpinnings of the discipline have never been clearly delineated from an African-centered perspective.

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7. African American Religion

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CHAPTER 7

African American Religion

Gye Nyame “Except God” Supremacy of God

Religion without humanity is a poor human stuff.

—Sojourner Truth

The African Antecedent

Religion is a concept that is usually meant to convey a sense of the human relationship to the entire universe. In academia, religious studies focus analytical discourse on the complex role religion plays in the cultural, as well as socioeconomic and political lives, of a particular group. In recent years, there have been many intellectual exchanges about religion in the African context. Although this has been historically interpreted, rationalized and exploited in a number of different ways, our concern is not simply to articulate what “African religion” is. Rather, our purpose is to articulate some of the conceptions across time and space that Africana peoples have had about their particular group’s relationship to the cosmos. We will briefly discuss some of the aspects of how Africans have conceived of their various orientations toward the workings of the universe and how these traditions have survived and changed through the long walk of African history.

The idea that cultural transfers occurred on the African continent during the classical era is evidenced by the cultural retentions found in various civilizations. We see many of the ideals, cultural mores, and institutions found at all corners of the continent. Even in contemporary articulations of African spiritual traditions, there are commonalities between these and...

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