AbrahamicReligionsSymposium on Africans, African Americans, and the Abrahamic Religions

April 19 and 20, 2012

Boston University Photonics Center Colloquium Room PHO 906

About the Symposium

Since ancient times, African people and their descendants have encountered, converted to and helped to shape the three religious traditions that claim Abraham as their ultimate founder—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  This interaction was already taking place in  Africa during the period of the slave trade, continued and deepened as Africans made their transit to the Americas, and continues to shape life, culture and politics within the New World’s varied African-descended communities.  One can find Christians of all denominations, Black Jews, the Nation of Islam and many other variants of these religions in North America today, and leaving our shores, one can also find Santeria, Candomblé, or fiery Pentacostalism in the Caribbean and Brazil.

This symposium will explore the impact that the Abrahamic Religions  have had on Africans and their descendants in the Americas from the period of the slave trade until the present day.  An outstanding group of scholars from the United States, Europe, Latin America and Israel will examine topics such as the Ras Tafari movement in Jamaica, Black Judaism in the 1930s, Nigerian Pentacostalism and the “Black church”.  The symposium will feature panels on the interaction between Christianity and African Traditional Religions in the Caribbean and South America and a discussion of the three faiths in modern American life by representatives of each one.

Special thanks to the Boston University Center for Humanities, W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University, BU College of Arts and Sciences, Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies at BU, BU Center for Global Christianity, BU African Presidential Archives and Research Center, BU African Studies Center, BU Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations, BU Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Initiative for the Development of Ethical Leadership for making this symposium possible.

-Linda Heywood, Professor of History and John Thornton, Professor of History