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University Press of Florida

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Abolition of Slavery in Ottoman Tunisia Cover

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Abolition of Slavery in Ottoman Tunisia

Ismael M. Montana

In this groundbreaking work, Ismael Montana fully explicates the complexity of Tunisian society and culture and reveals how abolition was able to occur in an environment hostile to such change. Moving beyond typical slave trade studies, he departs from the traditional regional paradigms that isolate slavery in North Africa from its global dynamics to examine the trans-Saharan slave trade in a broader historical context. The result is a study that reveals how European capitalism, political pressure, and evolving social dynamics throughout the western Mediterranean region helped shape this seismic cultural event.

African American Atheists and Political Liberation Cover

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African American Atheists and Political Liberation

A Study of the Sociocultural Dynamics of Faith

Michael Lackey

This study of atheist African American writers poses a substantive challenge to those who see atheism in despairing and nihilistic terms. Lackey argues that while most white atheists mourn the loss of faith, many black atheists--believing the "God-concept" spawns racism and oppression--consider the death of God a cause for personal and political hope.

Focusing on a little-discussed aspect of African American literature, this full-length analysis of African American atheists' treatment of God fills a huge gap in studies that consistently ignore their contributions. Examining how a belief in God and His "chosen people" necessitates a politics of superiority and inferiority, Lackey implicitly considers the degree to which religious faith is responsible for justifying oppression, even acts of physical and psychological violence.

In their secular vision of social and political justice, black atheists argue that only when the culture adopts and internalizes a truly atheist politics--one based on pluralism, tolerance, and freedom--will radical democracy be achieved. Of primary interest to scholars of African American studies, this volume also will appeal to religious scholars, philosophers, anthropologists, freethinkers, and religious and secular humanists.

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African Diasporic Women's Narratives

Politics of Resistance, Survival, and Citizenship

Simone A. James Alexander

Using feminist and womanist theory, Simone Alexander takes as her main point of analysis literary works that focus on the black female body as the physical and metaphorical site of migration. She shows that over time black women have used their bodily presence to complicate and challenge a migratory process often forced upon them by men or patriarchal society.

Through in-depth study of selective texts by Audre Lorde, Edwidge Danticat, Maryse Condé, and Grace Nichols, Alexander challenges the stereotypes ascribed to black female sexuality, subverting its assumed definition as diseased, passive, or docile. She also addresses issues of embodiment as she analyses how women’s bodies are read and seen; how bodies “perform” and are performed upon; how they challenge and disrupt normative standards.

A multifaceted contribution to studies of gender, race, sexuality and disability issues, African Diasporic Women’s Narratives engages with a range of issues as it grapples with the complex interconnectedness of geography, citizenship, and nationalism.

African Spiritual Traditions in the Novels of Toni Morrison Cover

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African Spiritual Traditions in the Novels of Toni Morrison

K. Zauditu-Selassie

Toni Morrison herself has long urged for organic critical readings of her works. K. Zauditu-Selassie delves deeply into African spiritual traditions, clearly explaining the meanings of African cosmology and epistemology as manifest in Morrison's novels. The result is a comprehensive, tour-de-force critical investigation of such works as The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Tar Baby, Paradise, Love, Beloved, and Jazz.

While others have studied the African spiritual ideas and values encoded in Morrison's work, African Spiritual Traditions in the Novels of Toni Morrison is the most comprehensive. Zauditu-Selassie explores a wide range of complex concepts, including African deities, ancestral ideas, spiritual archetypes, mythic trope, and lyrical prose representing African spiritual continuities.

Zauditu-Selassie is uniquely positioned to write this book, as she is not only a literary critic but also a practicing Obatala priest in the Yoruba spiritual tradition and a Mama Nganga in the Kongo spiritual system. She analyzes tensions between communal and individual values and moral codes as represented in Morrison's novels. She also uses interviews with and nonfiction written by Morrison to further build her critical paradigm.

African-Brazilian Culture and Regional Identity in Bahia, Brazil Cover

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African-Brazilian Culture and Regional Identity in Bahia, Brazil

Scott Ickes

Examines how in the middle of the twentieth century, Bahian elites began to recognize African-Bahian cultural practices as essential components of Bahian regional identity. Previously, public performances of traditionally African-Bahian practices such as capoeira, samba, and Candomblé during carnival and other popular religious festivals had been repressed in favor of more European traditions.

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Afro-Cuban Costumbrismo

From Plantations to the Slums

Rafael Ocasio

Costumbrismo, which refers to depictions of life in Latin America during the nineteenth century, introduced some of the earliest black themes in Cuban literature. Rafael Ocasio delves into this literature to offer up a new perspective on the development of Cuban identity, as influenced by black culture and religion, during the sugar cane boom.

Comments about the slave trade and the treatment of slaves were often censored in Cuban publications; nevertheless white Costumbrista writers reported on a vast catalogue of stereotypes, religious beliefs, and musical folklore, and on rich African traditions in major Cuban cities. Exploring rare and seldom discussed nineteenth-century texts, Ocasio offers insight into the nuances of black representation in Costumbrismo while analyzing authors such as Suárez y Romero, an abolitionist who wrote from the perspective of a plantation owner.

Afro-Cuban Costumbrismo expands the idea of what texts constitute Costumbrismo and debunks the traditional notion that this writing reveals little about the Afro-Cuban experience. The result is a novel examination of how white writers' representations of black culture heavily inform our current understanding of nineteenth-century Afro-Cuban culture and national identity.

Afro-Cuban Religious Arts Cover

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Afro-Cuban Religious Arts

Popular Expressions of Cultural Inheritance in Espiritismo and Santería

Kristine Juncker

This book profiles four generations of women from one Afro-Cuban religious family. From a plantation in Havana Province in the 1890s to a religious center in Spanish Harlem in the 1960s, these women were connected by their prominent roles as leaders in the religions they practiced and the dramatic ritual artwork they created. Each woman was a medium in Espiritismo--communicating with dead ancestors for guidance or insight--and also a santera, or priest of Santería, who could intervene with the oricha pantheon.

Kristine Juncker argues that by creating art for more than one religion these women shatter the popular assumption that Afro-Caribbean religions are exclusive organizations. Most remarkably, the portraiture, sculptures, and photographs in Afro-Cuban Religious Arts offer rare glimpses into the rituals and iconography of these religions. Santería altars are closely guarded, limited to initiates, and typically destroyed upon the death of the santera, while Espiritismo artifacts are rarely considered valuable enough to pass on. The unique and protean cultural legacy detailed here reveals insights into how ritual art became popular imagery, sparked a wider dialogue about culture inheritance, attracted new practitioners, and enabled the movement to explode internationally.

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Afro-Cuban Theology

Religion, Race, Culture, and Identity

Michelle A. Gonzalez

The first book to compare Cuban American and African American religiosity, Afro-Cuban Theology argues that Afro-Cuban religiosity and culture are central to understanding the Cuban and Cuban American condition. Gonzalez interprets this saturation of the Afro-Cuban as transcending race and affecting all Cubans and Cuban Americans in spite of their pigmentation or self-identification. Building on a historical overview of the intersection of race, religion, and nationhood, the author explores the manner in which devotion to La Caridad del Cobre, popular religion, and Cuban letters inform an Afro-Cuban theology.

This interdisciplinary study draws from various theological schools as well as the disciplines of history, literary studies, and ethnic studies. The primary discipline is systematic theology, with special attention to black and Latino/a theologies. Far from being disconnected subfields, they are interrelated areas within theological studies. Gonzalez provides a broad overview of the Cuban and Cuban American communities, emphasizing the manner in which the intersection of race and religion have functioned within the construction of Cuban and Cuban American identities. The Roman Catholic Church's role in this history, as well as the preservation of African religious practices and consequent formation of Afro-Cuban religions, are paramount.

Also groundbreaking is the collaborative spirit between black and Latino/a that underlines this work. The author proposes an expansion of racial identity recognizing the different cultures that exist within U.S. racial contexts--specifically a model of collaboration versus dialogue between black and Latino/a theologies.

After Freedom Summer Cover

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After Freedom Summer

How Race Realigned Mississippi Politics, 1965-1986

Chris Danielson

No one disagrees that 1964--Freedom Summer--forever changed the political landscape of Mississippi. How those changes played out is the subject of Chris Danielson’s fascinating new book, After Freedom Summer.

Prior to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, black voter participation in Mississippi was practically zero. After twenty years, black candidates had made a number of electoral gains. Simultaneously, white resistance had manifested itself in growing Republican dominance of the state.

Danielson demonstrates how race--not class or economics--was the dominant factor in white Mississippi voters' partisan realignment, even as he reveals why class and economics played a role in the tensions between the national NAACP and the local Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (an offshoot of SNCC) that limited black electoral gains.

Using an impressive array of newspaper articles, legal cases, interviews, and personal papers, Danielson's work helps fill a growing lacuna in the study of post-civil rights politics in the South.

After Slavery Cover

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After Slavery

Race, Labor, and Citizenship in the Reconstruction South

Bruce E. Baker

Moves beyond broad generalizations concerning black life during Reconstruction in order to address the varied experiences of freed slaves across the South. This collection examines urban unrest in New Orleans and Wilmington, North Carolina, loyalty among former slave owners and slaves in Mississippi, armed insurrection along the Georgia coast, racial violence throughout the region, and much more in order to provide a well-rounded portrait of the era.

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