African Zion: Studies in Black Judaism

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9781443838023: African Zion: Studies in Black Judaism
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Over the last hundred years, in Africa and the United States, through a variety of religious encounters, some black African societies adopted - or perhaps rediscovered - a Judaic religious identity. African Zion grows out of a joined interest in these diversified encounters with Judaism, their common substrata and divergences, their exogenous or endogenous characteristics, the entry or re-entry of these people into the contemporary world as Jews and the necessity of reshaping the standard accounts of their collective experience. In various loci the bonds with Judaism of black Jews were often forged in the harshest circumstances and grew out of experiences of slavery, exile, colonial subjugation, political ethnic conflicts and apartheid. For the African people who identify as Jews and with other Jews, identification with biblical Israel assumes symbolical significance. This book presents the way in which the religious identification of African American Jews and African black Jews - real, ideal or imaginary, has been represented, conceptualized and reconfigured over the last century or so. These essays grow out of a concern to understand Black encounters with Judaism, Jews and putative Hebrew/Israelite origins and are intended to illuminate their developments in the medley of race, ethnicity, and religion of the African and African American religious experience. They explore and review the major characteristics of the external and internal variables that shaped these group religious identities in Africa and the United States and reflect the geographical and historic mosaic of black Judaism, permeated as it is with different meanings both contemporary and historical.

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About the Author:

Marla Brettschneider is Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of New Hampshire with a joint appointment in Political Science and Women's Studies where she is Coordinator of WS. Among her books are the award winners The Family Flamboyant: Race Politics, Queer Families, Jewish Lives and The Narrow Bridge: Jewish Views on Multiculturalism as well as Democratic Theorizing from the Margins and Cornerstones of Peace: Jewish Identity Politics and Democratic Theory. Edith Bruder Ph.D is a Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and a Research Fellow at the North-West University, South Africa. She is the founding President of the International Society for the Study of African Jewry - ISSAJ. Her research interests include African Judaism in Africa and the United States, religious Diasporas, globalization of religions, socio-cultural implications of genomics. Recent publications include The Black Jews of Africa, History, Identity, Religion (Oxford University Press: New York, 2008) and articles and chapters in various books. Jacob S. Dorman is an Assistant Professor of History and American Studies at the University of Kansas. He is the author of: Chosen People: The Rise of Black Judaism forthcoming in 2012 from Oxford University Press. He graduated from Stanford University and received his Ph.D. from UCLA. He is the recipient of a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship from Wesleyan University and a National Endowment of the Humanities fellowship from the Newberry Library, Chicago. Yulia Egorova is Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at Durham University. Her research interests include studies in Jewish identity, particularly in the context of India and Judaising movements, and anthropology of scientific knowledge. She is the author of Jews and India: Perceptions and Image and a co-author of Genetics, Mass Media and Identity: a case study of the genetic research on the Lemba and the Bene Israel. Janice W. Fernheimer is Assistant Professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Media at the University of Kentucky where she teaches courses in rhetoric, technology, and pedagogy; digital writing; and Jewish rhetorical studies. Her research focuses on questions of identity, invention, and cross-audience communication. She is completing a monograph on Hatzaad Harishon, Rhetoric, Race, and Religion: Hatzaad Harishon and Black Jewish Identity from Civil Rights to Black Power and co-editing the collection Jewish Rhetorics. Johannes Harnischfeger, University of Frankfurt, studied Literature, Philosophy, Political Science and Social Anthropology. He taught at universities in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. While living in Igboland, 1993-96, he did research on spirit possession and witchcraft. John L. Jackson, Jr, is the Richard Perry University Professor of Communication and Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Racial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness (Basic Books, 2008); Real Black: Adventures in Racial Sincerity (University of Chicago Press, 2005); and Harlemworld: Doing Race and Class in Contemporary Black America (University of Chicago Press, 2001). His current book project, to be published by Harvard University Press, focuses on African Hebrew Israelites in the US and Israel. Dierk Lange is a Professor Emeritus and charge de cours at the University of Bayreuth, Germany. He is a specialist in the history of the West African empires and has done field research in Borno, Hausaland, and Yorubaland. His research presently focuses on the consequences in West African history of mass migrations from the Near East after the fall of the Assyrian empire in 612 BCE. Recent publications on this topic include: An Assyrian successor state in West Africa: the ancestral kings of K

Review:

African Zion: Studies in Black Judaism traces a vast network of black associations with Judaism from across the African continent and beyond, a welcome, multi-discipinary contribution to a long neglected topic. --Kay Kaufman Shelemay, G. Gordon Watts Professor of Music and of African and African American Studies, Harvard University

Tudor Parfitt and Edith Bruder have gathered a collection of articles that explore the historical, political and racial themes that have influenced Africans and their descendants understanding of Judaism. The articles range from novel reconstructions of ancient Jewish populations moving into Africa, through the creation of Jewish practices by a variety of African and American groups. This approach puts African Zion at the head of a wide range of engagements with Jewish, African and African American history and religion that includes genetic research, linguistic analysis, textual studies and religious history. It should attract readers from Jewish communities around the world as well as students and scholars of religion and culture generally. --John Thorton, Professor of History and African American Studies, Boston University, author of Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World and Linda Heywood, Director African American Studies, Boston University

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