RELG 109. Afro-Atlantic Religions

This course investigates the Afro-Atlantic trope of spirit possession. The notion of "possession" contains a double meaning, referring in one register to phenomena of trance, ecstasy, and other embodied engagements with Spirit(s), historically identified by religious studies scholars as hallmarks of African Diasporic ritual traditions. In yet another register, the notion of "possession" chains Black religion to the history of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and its logic of racial capital that sold Black bodies as commodities to be possessed by a master. By way of ethnographic field reports, videos, films, and readings in critical race theory, kinesthetics, and phenomenology, students will untangle these tropes of Black spirit and possession to discover what their alternative, Africanist perspectives might teach us about the nature of Being, consciousness, materiality, and how to live well in ancestral community.
2 credits.
Eligible for BLST, LALS
Spring 2022. Padilioni.
Catalog chapter: Religion  
Department website:

Check the Spring 2022 Schedule of Courses

Check the Fall 2022 Schedule of Courses

Print-Friendly Page (opens a new window)