Materialities of Ritual in the Black Atlantic

Materialities of Ritual in the Black Atlantic

Edited by Akinwumi Ogundiran and Paula Saunders
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 10/03/2014
Format: Hardback 38 b&w illus., 9 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-01386-6
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A Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2015

Focusing on everyday rituals, the essays in this volume look at spheres of social action and the places throughout the Atlantic world where African–descended communities have expressed their values, ideas, beliefs, and spirituality in material terms. The contributors trace the impact of encounters with the Atlantic world on African cultural formation, how entanglement with commerce, commodification, and enslavement and with colonialism, emancipation, and self-rule manifested itself in the shaping of ritual acts such as those associated with birth, death, healing, and protection. Taken as a whole, the book offers new perspectives on what the materials of rituals can tell us about the intimate processes of cultural transformation and the dynamics of the human condition.

Author Bio

Akinwumi Ogundiran is Professor of Africana Studies, Anthropology, and History and Chair of the Africana Studies Department at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. He is editor (with Toyin Falola) of Archaeology of Atlantic Africa and the African Diaspora (IUP, 2007).

Paula Saunders is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the City University of New York.


“Promises to become an essential work for Black Atlantic/African Diaspora scholars from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds. Unique in its singular focus on both spiritual-religious and quotidian ritual practices and actions.”
 — Walter Rucker, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

“With its focus on the materiality of ritual, this volume addresses a topic of considerable current interest within archaeology and anthropology. It is a timely effort to connect this work with studies of ritual and materiality in the African Diaspora.”
 — Ann Stahl, University of Victoria

“This book marks an important advance in research on the archaeology of the black Atlantic; that is, the archaeological study of contacts, parallelisms, and ruptures that marked Old and New World communities during the era of the Atlantic slave trade. . . . Highly recommended.”
 — Choice

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Table of Contents

1. On the Materiality of Black Atlantic Rituals / Akinwumi Ogundiran and Paula Saunders
2. Reconstructing the Archaeology of Movement in Northern Ghana: Insights into Past Ritual Posture and Performance / Timothy Insoll and Benjamin W. Kankpeyeng
3. Sacred Vorticies of the African Atlantic World: Materiality of the Accumulative Aesthetic in the Hueda Kingdom, 1650-1727 / Neil Norman
4. Cowries and Rituals of Self-Realization in the Yoruba Region, West Africa, ca. 1600–1860 / Akinwumi Ogundiran
5. Spiritual Vibrations of Historic Kormantse and the Search for African Identity Diaspora Identity and Freedom / E. Kofi Agorsah
6. Rituals of Iron in the Black Atlantic World / Candice Goucher
7. Transatlantic Meanings: African Rituals and Material Culture from the Early Modern Spanish Caribbean / Pablo F. Gómez
8. "Instruments of Obeah": The Significance of Ritual Objects in the Jamaican Legal System, 1760 to Present / Danielle Boaz
9. Charms and Spiritual Practitioners: Negotiating Power Dynamics in an Enslaved African Community in Jamaica / Paula Saunders
10. Mundane or Spiritual? – The Interpretation of Glass Bottle Containers Found on Two Sites of the African Diaspora / Matthew Reeves
11. Ritual Bundle in Colonial Annapolis / Mark P. Leone, Jocelyn E. Knauf and Amanda Tang
12. Dexterous Creation: Material Manifestations of Instrumental Symbolism in the Americas / Christopher C. Fennell
13. Ritualized Figuration in Special African-American Yards / Grey Gundaker
14. "I Cry 'I Am' For All to Hear Me": The Informal Cemetery in Central Georgia / Hugh B. Matternes and Staci Richey
15. Spatial and Material Transformations in Commemoration on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands / Helen C. Blouet
16. "As Above, So Below": Ritual and Commemoration in African-American Archaeological Contexts in the Northern United States / Cheryl J. LaRoche
17. Cape Coast Castle and Rituals of Memory / Brempong Osei-Tutu

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