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African Immigrant Religions in America

Jacob Olupona, Regina Gemignani

Publication Year: 2007

African immigration to North America has been rapidly increasing. Yet, little has been written about this significant group of immigrants and the particular religious traditions that they are transplanting on our shores, as scholars continue largely to focus instead on immigrants from Europe and Asia.

African Immigrant Religions in America focuses on new understandings and insights concerning the presence and relevance of African immigrant religious communities in the United States. It explores the profound significance of religion in the lives of immigrants and the relevance of these growing communities for U.S. social life. It describes key social and historical aspects of African immigrant religion in the U.S. and builds a conceptual framework for theory and analysis.

The volume broadens our understandings of the ways in which new immigration is changing the face of Christianity in the U.S. and adds needed breadth to the study of the black church, incorporating the experiences of African immigrant religious communities in America.

Published by: NYU Press

TItle Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii

The editors would like to thank our colleagues in the Working Group on African Immigrant Religion in the United States, many of whom wrote chapters for this volume, for their important contributions to the developing conversation on this topic. Their work has helped to shape our own...

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pp. 1-24

The chapters in this volume document a rising phenomenon on the North American religious scene—the churches, mosques, and shrines established and led by African immigrants.1 African-born immigrants are a small but growing segment of immigrants to the United States and Canada. Despite...

Part I: Historical and Theoretical Perspectives

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pp. 25

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1: Communities of Believers: Exploring African Immigrant Religion in the United States

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pp. 27-46

Despite unprecedented awareness of the importance of new immigrant cultures in contemporary America, modern scholarship has failed to properly document, describe, and analyze the religious activities of African immigrant communities in the United States. It has frequently been...

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2: African Immigrant Churches in the United States and the Study of Black Church History

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pp. 47-60

The advent of African immigrant churches, specifically denominations, in the United States since 1965 creates a new moment in the history and study of the Black Church in North America. Should African immigrant churches become included in the studies of the Black Church and within...

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3: The Andrew Syndrome: Models in Understanding Nigerian Diaspora

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pp. 61-85

There was a time when the Nigerian government resorted to television advertisements to stem the flow of emigration from the country. One of these pictured a burly man called Andrew, who was seen at the international airport with a disgusted, sweaty face, “checking out” of the country in frustration....

Part II: Reverse Mission: Faith, Practice, and the Immigrant Journey

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pp. 87

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4: Non-Western Christianity in the Western World: African Immigrant Churches in the Diaspora

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pp. 89-101

Immigration is changing the religious configuration of the United States. The 1965 Immigration Reform Act contributed to an unprecedented wave of American immigrants in the twentieth century. These immigrants have inevitably contributed to the new religious reality in the United States...

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5: Portable Faith: The Global Mission of African Initiated Churches (AICs)

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pp. 102-129

African Initiated Churches (AICs) had been part of the global community for nearly half a century when the first African churches were established in Europe. In this chapter I argue that the portability of faith by members of AICs reflects a global mission project of the Christian tradition. The...

Part III: Gender, Ethnicity, and Identity

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pp. 131

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6: Gender, Identity, and Power in African Immigrant Evangelical Churches

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pp. 133-157

This chapter explores the relationships among religion, gender, and ethnicity in the African immigrant churches. It aims to understand the complex negotiation of gender as women and men newly arrived to the United States adjust to transformational changes in education, work opportunities, and marriage...

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7: Gender and Change in an African Immigrant Church: An Anthropologist and a (Former) Prophetess Reflect

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pp. 158-181

The African Diaspora in the New World has occurred in two major waves of migration. The first, shaped by the trans-Atlantic slave trade, was a consequence of forced migration to supply labor to expanding European nation-states. The recent African migration is a voluntary response to turbulent change...

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8: West African Muslims in America: When Are Muslims Not Muslims?

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pp. 182-206

The subtitle of this chapter may be somewhat misleading, if not offensive. The religious identity of Muslims is after all invariable, as is the case with Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and members of other any religious (or atheistic) group. Nevertheless, it has been argued and commonly...

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9: African Religious Beliefs and Practices in Diaspora: An Ethnographic Observation of Activities at an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church in Los Angeles

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pp. 207-226

The proliferation of African religious communities in Diaspora is increasingly emerging as an important area of research for both African and Africanist scholars of various disciplinary backgrounds (including religious and cultural studies, history, anthropology, sociology and theology, to mention...

Part IV: Civic Engagement and Political Incorporation

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pp. 227

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10: Transnationalism, Religion, and the African Diaspora in Canada: An Examination of Ghanaians and Ghanaian Churches

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pp. 229-258

Increasingly, a lot of people are being compelled to leave their countries of origin to settle in other places as a result of socioeconomic problems wrought by global forces and/or political turmoil in their home countries.1 These developments, combined with the constriction of “time-space...

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11: “Singing the Lord’s Song in a Foreign Land”: Spirituality, Communality, and Identity in a Ghanaian Immigrant Congregation

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pp. 259-278

“Africans are notoriously religious,” states John S. Mbiti, the renowned theologian and scholar of African religion and philosophy. He notes that Africans carry their religion with them wherever they go—to their farms, parties, examination rooms, and parliament.1 In essence, Africans value...

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12: African Immigrant Churches and the New Christian Right

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pp. 279-305

The impact of contemporary African Christian immigrants on American social and political life is not a much-studied subject. Few scholars and analysts have addressed the increasing tide of religious immigration, involving the migration of ministers, religious workers, and pastors of...

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13: African Muslims in the United States: The Nigerian Case

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pp. 306-324

Islam, the religion of submission to the Almighty God, is one of the major religions in Nigeria. There are more Muslims in Nigeria than there are Christians. Islam was introduced to Nigeria in the eleventh century by way of the Arab traders from Morocco. Of course, Islam gained no national...

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14: Conclusion

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pp. 325-333

The significance of African immigrant religious communities is evidenced by their diversity and growing numbers, as well as by their impact on American social life. As a result, they can no longer be overlooked either in academia or in public thought and policy debates. This conclusion summarizes...


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pp. 335-338


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pp. 339-352

E-ISBN-13: 9780814762585
E-ISBN-10: 0814762581
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814762110
Print-ISBN-10: 0814762115

Page Count: 368
Publication Year: 2007