Results for: Political Theologies of Slavery and Freedom in the Atlantic World 

KNOW 40308: Political Theologies of Slavery and Freedom in the Atlantic World

  • Course Level: Graduate
  • Department: Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, English, History, History of Religions, Political Science, Religious Studies, Social Thought
  • Year: 2019-20
  • Term: Spring
  • Wed 10:30 AM-1:20 PM
  • KNOW 30308, SCTH 40308, CRES 30308
  • Alex Mazzaferro

This seminar examines the interdisciplinary form of knowledge known as “political theology” in the context of Atlantic slavery. The course will trace two major developments. First, we will explore how Christian metaphysics facilitated colonialism and slavery, focusing on the emergence of race as a theological (rather than a biological) concept and on the self-fulfilling providentialism that structured fantasies of Euro-Christian world dominance. Second, we will explore how indigenous and African cosmologies and Christianities informed enslaved resistance and abolitionism. Our readings will range from works of political theology (Augustine, Calvin, Hobbes) to early American writings (Las Casas, Ligon, Jefferson) to Black Atlantic anti-slavery texts (Wheatley, Walker, Turner). We’ll consider the explorer George Best’s rewriting of the biblical Curse of Ham, Francis Bacon’s claim that Europe’s superior technology evidenced its Chosen status, and the ideology of “hereditary heathenism” that forestalled early efforts to convert slaves to Christianity. Likewise, we’ll consider the role of obeah in Anglo-Caribbean insurrections and vodou in the Haitian Revolution, the competing attitudes toward Christian slave revolt found in fiction by Douglass and Stowe, and the continued contestation of what W. E. B. Du Bois called “the new religion of whiteness.” Secondary authors may include Charles Taylor, Talal Asad, Max Weber, Colin Kidd, Rebecca Goetz, Jared Hickman, Katharine Gerbner, Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, and J. Kameron Carter.