Cécile Fromont, "Afro-Catholic Festivals in the Americas: Performance, Representation, and the Making of Black Atlantic Tradition" (Penn State, 2019)

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Edited by Dr. Cécile Fromont, Afro-Catholic Festivals in the Americas: Performance, Representation, and the Making of Black Atlantic Tradition (Penn State University Press, 2019), demonstrates how, from the beginning of the Atlantic slave trade, enslaved and free Africans in the Americas used Catholicism and Christian-derived celebrations as spaces for autonomous cultural expression, social organization, and political empowerment. Their appropriation of Catholic-based celebrations calls into question the long-held idea that Africans and their descendants in the diaspora either resignedly accepted Christianity or else transformed its religious rituals into syncretic objects of stealthy resistance. In cities and on plantations throughout the Americas, men and women of African birth or descent staged mock battles against heathens, elected Christian queens and kings with great pageantry, and gathered in festive rituals to express their devotion to saints. The contributors to this volume draw connections between these Afro-Catholic festivals—observed from North America to South America and the Caribbean—and their precedents in the early modern kingdom of Kongo, one of the main regions of origin of men and women enslaved in the New World.

Dr. Cécile Fromont is Associate Professor of History of Art at Yale University.

Other contributors to Afro-Catholic Festivals in the Americas include Jeroen Dewulf, Kevin Dawson, Miguel A. Valerio, Lisa Voigt, Junia Ferreira Furtado, Dianne M. Stewart, and Michael Iyanaga.

Emily Ruth Allen (@emmyru91) is a PhD candidate in Musicology at Florida State University. She is currently working on a dissertation about parade musics in Mobile, Alabama’s Carnival celebrations.

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