From Don Imus's "nappy headed-ho's" and default public scapegoating of Hip Hop culture to the burial of the "N" word by black religious leaders, Religion and Hip Hop settles the score between the sacred and the profane by drawing on data on youth and religion, recently published books by rappers that look like Bibles, and new religious sensibilities among youth culture. What we call religious in Hip Hop and youth culture, aint' that religious, after all. Miller suggests, "We must begin again by rethinking the religious."
Religion and Hip Hop brings together the category of religion, hip hop cultural modalities and the demographic of youth. Bringing postmodern theory and critical approaches in the study of religion to bear on Hip Hop cultural practices, this book examines how scholars in religious and theological studies have deployed and approached religion when analyzing Hip Hop data. Using existing empirical studies on youth and religion to the cultural criticism of the Humanities, Religion and Hip Hop argues that common among existing scholarship is a thin interrogation of the category of religion. As such, Miller calls for a redescription of religion in popular cultural analysis - a challenge she further explores and advances through various materialist engagements.
Going beyond the traditional and more common approach of analyzing rap lyrics, from film, dance, to virtual reality, Religion and Hip Hop takes a fresh approach to exploring the paranoid posture of the religious in popular cultural forms, by going beyond what "is" religious about Hip Hop culture. Rather, Miller explores what rhetorical uses of religion in Hip Hop culture accomplish for various and often competing social and cultural interests.
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Monica R. Miller is Visiting Assistant Professor in the department of Religious Studies at Lewis & Clark College where her research focuses on the intersections of religion & material/popular culture. Miller currently serves as a Senior Research Fellow with The Institute for Humanist Studies (Washington, DC) and is co-chair of a new AAR consultation entitled Critical Approaches to the Study of Hip Hop and Religion. Miller is also principal investigator of a large scale survey project (Remaking Religion) in Portland, Oregon which explores religion in youth culture. She is the author of numerous articles and book chapters, and is currently at work on a second book entitled: Blacklandia: The Subtleties of Race in Portland.
"Miller's well researched and thoughtfully written book is a vital contribution to scholarship, one that holds great promise for helping readers better understand both the nature and meaning of religion and the deep significance of hip hop. Anyone interested in the intersection(s) of religion and hip hop should read this book. I highly recommend it." – Anthony B. Pinn, Rice University, USA
"Milller's new volume is a sweeping, provocative look at the complex relationship between hip hop and religion. Drawing on her rich and wide-ranging understanding of the art form, Miller asks very basic and profound questions about religion itself. Looking past popular and academic moralizing alike, Miller interrogates religion as an emergent and unpredictable phenomena, asking what it means-and can mean-for hip hop artists and audiences today. In so doing, Miller generously and expansively clears the ground for all future work on this necessary and vital topic." – Greg Dimitriadis, University at Buffalo, SUNY, USA
"Monica Miller has produced a lucid and unpredictable book that easily separates itself from the pack. This is destined to be a classic in critical hip-hop studies and a definitive contribution to ongoing debates about the very contours of African American religious and political life in the 21st century." – John L. Jackson, Jr., University of Pennsylvania, USA
"Miller’s ambitious enterprise sets out to rethink difference in black popular culture. Concise, engaging and original, this book should be read by students and teachers engaged in the social scientific study of contemporary religion." – Abby Day, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK
"Religion and Hip Hop makes significant contributions to scholarship on religion and Hip Hop as well as to theory and method in the study of African American religion generally. Miller’s shifts in focus, from a priori and sui generis definitions of religion to a social constructionist perspective, and from rap lyrics and institutional Christianity to material culture and lived religion, should prove a watershed moment in the field of religion and Hip Hop." - Dusty Hoesley, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA, in Religion
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