Religious Pluralism, Hybrid Identities and the Postcolonial Religious Other

The focus of this research is religious pluralism and hybrid identities, particularly the construction of religious identities resulting from the African diaspora in Latin America and the Caribbean. The African matrix of religious pluralism in Latin America and the Caribbean is widely acknowledged in countries where slavery was prominent and traditional African religions served as forms of resistance and means for survival. However, with few exceptions, an actual religious presence based on African roots is not recognized as such. The African diaspora religions are subsumed under broader categories of cultural expression or obfuscated by dogmatic or doctrinal views that restrict the concept of religion to institutional manifestations. At best, the African religious presence in Latin America and the Caribbean is deemed a cultural manifestation (without the power and authority that religions convey). At worst, it is ignored or reduced to a bi-product of the colonial enterprise. The reality is that the African religious matrix is engrained in the social fabric of Latin America and the Caribbean. This research project aims to identify the African roots of these religious expressions and the hybrid identities that resulted from the African diasporic religions.

Project leader(s):
  • Wanda Deifelt (Department of Religion, Luther College)

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