HISTORY 421 - Religions of the African Diaspora
Fall 2023, Section 001 - Religions of the African Diasp: Vodou, Santeria, Rastafari
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: History (HISTORY)
Department: LSA History
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Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
May not be repeated for credit.
Rackham Information:
Rackham credit requires additional work.
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 8/28/23 - 12/6/23 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


This survey course offers an overview of the religions of the African Diaspora. Beginning with a theorization and genealogy of the concept of diaspora itself, the course provides introductions (both in historical context and contemporary manifestations) to the following: Brazilian Candomblé and Umbanda; Cuban Santería and Palo Monte; Haitian Vodou; Jamaican and globalized Rastafarianism; the ancestor religion of the Garifuna of Honduras, Guatemala and Belize; Obeah/ orisha practices of Trinidad; and the Afro-Baptist tradition and Pentecostal roots of the Black Church in the U.S. Key issues will include the way "Africa" is recreated in ritual practice, the experience of exile and transculturation, and common ritual tropes such as spirit possession, altars devoted to material exchange and sacrifice, performative codes of clothing and music, and many others.

Course Requirements:

Attendance; participation; short in-class presentations; critical reading reviews; midterm exam; final exam. Undergraduates will do weekly critical reading response/reflection papers of about 3 pages each, making a sum of around 40 pages during the term. They also write essays on midterm and final exams, in addition to doing an oral presentation. Grads will be required to do a research paper.

Intended Audience:

Upper-level undergrads and grad students

Class Format:

3 hours/week in lecture format


HISTORY 421 - Religions of the African Diaspora
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
MW 10:00AM - 11:30AM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23

Textbooks/Other Materials

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