This piece reflects on the engagement of African-descended people with Catholicism since the fifteenth century in West-Central Africa and the Atlantic diaspora. Rather than look at the process within a Christianity-centered model, I reorient this history within an interpretive framework that I call “kalunga.” The Kongo word kalunga evokes ideas about place and spiritual knowledge that I employ as a label for the all-encompassing physical and conceptual world inhabited by African-descended people. In this framework, I contend that the Catholic Christianity taken to West-Central Africa was subsumed within kalunga and thus transformed from a separate religion into a fundamental component of kalunga. Captive West-Central Africans then extended this relationship between Catholic Christianity and kalunga into the Atlantic diaspora, where it shaped the development of religious cultures in the Americas, including in those societies where colonizers and enslavers installed Protestant Christianity as the dominant institutional religion.


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pp. 246-255
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