Honoring the Ancestors: An African Cultural Interpretation of Black Religion and Literature

Paperback | October 29, 2012

byDonald H. Matthews

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Donald Matthews affirms once and for all the African foundation of African-American religious practice. His analysis of the methods employed by historians, social scientists, and literary critics in the study of African-American religion and the Negro spiritual leads him to develop amethodology that encompasses contemporary scholarship without compromising the integrity of African-American religion and culture.Because the Negro spiritual is the earliest extant body of African-American folk religious narration, Matthews believes that it holds the key to understanding African-American religion. He explores the works of such seminal black scholars as W. E. B. DuBois, Melville Herskovits, and Zora NealeHurston, tracing the early development of the African-centered approach to the interpretation of African-American religion. This approach involves "cultural/structuralism", the author's term for the method used by DuBois, Herskovits, and Hurston that emphasizes the thick reading of narrativeexpressions. Such a reading allows the scholar to identify the cultural significance of particular oral and written texts and serves as a point of identification and a cultural link between African and African-American religion. Matthews' close analysis of the spiritual employs a dialectical andpostmodernist reading and reveals a religious philosophy that addresses the deepest concerns and desires of Africans in America. These concerns are cultural, political, and psychological, but are ultimately related to African religious structures of meaning.Honoring the Ancestors poses a challenge to end the battle between Afrocentrists and multiculturalists by acknowledging their common intellectual heritage in the works of DuBois, Herskovits, and Hurston. It will be of great interest to students and scholars of African-American religion and cultureand those interested in Afrocentric literature.

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Donald Matthews affirms once and for all the African foundation of African-American religious practice. His analysis of the methods employed by historians, social scientists, and literary critics in the study of African-American religion and the Negro spiritual leads him to develop amethodology that encompasses contemporary scholarship...

Donald H. Matthews is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Naropa University.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:192 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:October 29, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199963991

ISBN - 13:9780199963997

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Table of Contents

1. Interpretation and the African American Situation2. Cultural Contact and Cultural Space: The Dialectics of Negation and Resistance3. A Theology of the Spirituals: The Spirituals as Postmodern Discource4. Black Literary Criticism and Narrative Hermeneutics5. An Analysis of All God's Dangers Based on the Spirituals6. The Spirituals: An African Cultural Narrative TheologyPostscriptNotesBibliographyIndex