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A comprehensive introduction to the Caribbean’s African-based religions

Afro-Caribbean Religions

An Introduction to Their Historical, Cultural, and Sacred Traditions

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Nathaniel Samuel Murrell

"Afro-Caribbean Religions is an excellent book—richly informative, well researched and well organized. Murrell explains complex religions in accessible language and successfully informs the reader about the content and history of the religions that are so respectfully presented here. It is truly an enjoyable read, in which one learns something new on virtually every page. I expect Afro-Caribbean Religions to receive an enthusiastic reception among students and professors alike for many years to come."
—Dr. Terry Rey, Associate Professor and Chair of Religion at Temple University

Religion is one of the most important elements of Afro-Caribbean culture linking its people to their African past, from Haitian Vodou and Cuban Santeria—popular religions that have often been demonized in popular culture—to Rastafari in Jamaica and Orisha-Shango of Trinidad and Tobago. In Afro-Caribbean Religions, Nathaniel Samuel Murrell provides a comprehensive study that respectfully traces the social, historical, and political contexts of these religions. And, because Brazil has the largest African population in the world outside of Africa, and has historic ties to the Caribbean, Murrell includes a section on Candomble, Umbanda, Xango, and Batique.

This accessibly written introduction to Afro-Caribbean religions examines the cultural traditions and transformations of all of the African-derived religions of the Caribbean along with their cosmology, beliefs, cultic structures, and ritual practices. Ideal for classroom use, Afro-Caribbean Religions also includes a glossary defining unfamiliar terms and identifying key figures.

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Excerpt

Read the Introduction (pdf).

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Reviews

"Murrell has produced a very useful and long overdue introduction to African Caribbean religious traditions. His synthesis of a wide-range of scholarship on African Brazilian traditions, Haitian Vodou, and Rastafari is especially impressive. The categorization of topics is well executed, and the presentation of traditions is carefully laid out in a structure that is thematically cohesive and allows readers to connect the content and arguments across each chapter. I expect that Murrell's book will commend itself as a classic over time in the field, especially given the dearth of comprehensive publications on African Caribbean religions"
Dianne Stewart Diakité, Associate Professor of Religion, Emory University

"It will prove invaluable for experienced readers with a deep interest in the subject, whether or not in the classroom."
Library Journal

"[A]n extremely well-researched introduction to African-derived religions of the Caribbean. In an accessible, cohesive format, Murrell traces the complex development and adaptation of various African traditional religions within specific Caribbean national and transnational contexts.... This book will be an invaluable resource to both students and specialists alike. Summing Up: Highly recommended."
CHOICE

"[T]he 'context of contact' was the most important factor determining the nature and form of [Orisha's] complex, syncretic religion. Nathaniel Samuel Murrell has taken this approach in his authoritative and highly readable Afro-Caribbean Religions and has applied it to virtually all of the major African-derived religions in the Caribbean culture area.... Murrell’s careful attention to history and the context of contact proves invaluable to his analysis of the precise syncretic mechanisms at work in the various religions.... Afro-Caribbean Religions is a welcome addition to the literature on African-derived religions in the New World and should prove to be an invaluable resource for anyone who has an interest in this area. Encyclopedic and scholarly, it will no doubt become the definitive source on Afro-Caribbean religions."
The New West Indian Guide

"The African-based religions of the New World have been much studied, for over a century now, but no single scholar has attempted a work as comprehensive as this. The word 'monumental' will probably be used to describe it. The book jacket says the work covers 'every African-derived religion of the Caribbean;' and it looks as well into the broad African roots of, and specific cultural influences upon many of them, and he cites all relevant scholarship....It is a vast and mostly successful undertaking, truly a monumental work, and it must be on the shelf of anyone interested in cultures of the Caribbean, from any disciplinary perspective."
Anthropos

"Afro-Caribbean Religions is an in-depth and detailed examination of the religions that survived the journey from Africa."
NACLA Report on the Americas

"[A] comprehensive survey of the varied religious traditions in the Caribbean that have African cultural roots.... Murrell approaches his study as an insider well aware of Afro-Caribbean culture and its religious complexity.... It [is] an important addition to the field of black religious studies."
Journal of African American History

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  Also available in e-book

 

Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction

PART I: African Connections: Historical Roots Of Afro- Caribbean Religions
1. Yoruba, Fon- Ewe, Ashanti, and Kongo Cultural History
2. African Cultus and Functionaries

PART II: Vodou: Haitian Religion
3. Vodou and the Haitians’ Struggle
4. Serving the Lwa

PART III: Santeria And Palo Monte: Cuban Religion Of The Orisha And Drums
5. Caribbean Santeria
6. Energy of the Ashe Community and Cultus
7. Palo Monte Mayombe

PART IV: Creole Religions Of The Southern Caribbean
8. Dancing to Orixas’ Axe in Candomble
9. Umbanda and Its Antecedents
10. Orisha Powers: Creole Religion in Trinidad and Tobago

PART V: Jamaica’s Creole Religions: Culture Of Resistance And Rhythms
11. Obeah: Magical Art of Re sis tancer
12. Myal and Kumina in Jamaica’s Past
13. Poco, Zion, and Convince
14. The Rastafari Chant

Conclusion
Notes
Glossary
Selected Bibliography
Index

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About the Author(s)

Nathaniel Samuel Murrell is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and the co-editor of Chanting Down Babylon: The Rastafari Reader (Temple).

Subject Categories

Religion
Latin American/Caribbean Studies
African Studies

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