A New Graduate Course on “Afro-Caribbean Worldview and Christian Theology”

A New Graduate Course on “Afro-Caribbean Worldview and Christian Theology”

The Dean of the School of Theology at Emmaus University—a fully-accredited institution—confirmed with me that he wants me to offer an intensive (one-week) Graduate course on “Afro-Caribbean Worldview and Christian Theology” for the next cohort that will take place in the Spring Semester 2022 (March 2022). (The good thing is that I will offer this course during my Spring Break 😊) This course is integral to the school’s new M.A. degree in Contextual Theology. Here is the course description from the School’s Catalogue:

“This course examines and critiques the philosophical foundations for Afro-Caribbean worldview as it relates to theology, and the nature of its interfacing with the philosophical foundations of orthodox Christian theology.”

The Caribbean has produced some of the most brilliant thinkers and writers in the Black Atlantic (i.e., C.L.R. James, Eric Williams, Jean Price-Mars, Joseph Anténor Firmin, Edouard Glissant, Sylvia Wynter, Edwidge Danticat, Myriam J.A. Chancy, Jean Rhys, Maryse Condé, Patrick Chamoisseau, Derek Walcott, Frantz Fanon, Aimé Césaire, Suzanne Césaire, Paulette Nardal, Jane Nardal, Jacques Roumain, Nicolas Guillen, Marcus Garvey, Jacques Roumain, Claude McKay, George Lamming, Edward Brathwaite, Derek Walcott, V.S. Naipaul, Alejo Carpentier, Walter Rodney, Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Jose Marti, Roberto Fernandez Retamar, Leon Damas, Fernando Ortiz, Antonio Benitez-Rojo, Wilson Harris, Audre Lorde, Stuart Hall, Hubert Harrison, Claudia Jones).

The Caribbean people and nations are such a diverse group that inherits three major traditions and heritages: African, European, Indigenous (Native American). They created their own tradition through the intermixing and intermingling (i.e., syncretism, creolization, acculturation, inculturation, symbiosis) process of these various traditions, what Caribbean anthropologists and thinkers have called the Caribbean culture. The Caribbean people practice various and different religious traditions, including the Afro-Caribbean religions (i.e., Santeria, Obeah, Vodou, Candomblé), Rastafarianism, Catholic Christianity, Protestant Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormonism, etc.

The Caribbean is known as the birthplace of Black freedom; the genesis of the postcolonial state; the origin of the Black Radical Tradition; and the center of Black Power Movement coupled with various ideologies such as Caribbean Marxism and Caribbean Communism. The Caribbean has also produced some of the major literary, cultural, and political movements in the world, including Négritude, Créolité, Antillanité, Cubanismo, indigénisme, noirisme, magical realism, etc. In addition, the Caribbean people are a multilingual group, and the most spoken languages in the Region include Kreyòl, Spanish, French, English, Dutch, etc.

Some Guiding Questions for the Course:

• What is then the Afro-Caribbean worldview?
• Can it be truly defined?
• What are the basic or fundamental elements that constitute the Afro-Caribbean Worldview?
• How shall one present (methodology and pedagogy) such a diverse and complex people?
• What is the place of Africa in the formation of the Afro-Caribbean worldview?
• Where does Europe fit in the construction of the Afro-Caribbean worldview?
• Where is the place of the Caribbean (the indigenous native American culture) in the development and evolution of the Afro-Caribbean worldview?
• How have these various cultural and intellectual traditions and movements influence and contribute to Caribbean Christianity?
• More specifically, how have these various forces and actors (re-)shaped or influenced Caribbean Christian theology?
• Is Caribbean Christian theological discourse different to the mainstream, that is, the European/Western Christian theological discourse?
• What constitutes Christian theological orthodoxy for Caribbean Christians and Caribbean Christian Theologians?
• How have the institutions of slavery and colonization, as well as imperialism and capitalism helped shape Christian theology in the Caribbean?
• How have political (dis-)orders and systems such as Caribbean dictatorship, communism, and totalitarianism shaped Christian theology in the Caribbean?

These are some of the fundamental questions I hope to introduce to the students in that course; these questions will also serve as guide to define and understand the relationship between the Afro-Caribbean worldview and Christian theology. All the required texts for the course will be accessible online and for free.

(Tentative) Required Texts

• Laennec Hurbon, Dieu dans le Vodou haïtien (1974)
• Jean Price-Mars, Ainsi parla l’Oncle: Essai d’Ethnolographie
(1928), http://classiques.uqac.ca/classiques/price_mars_jean/ainsi_parla_oncle/ainsi_parla_oncle.pdf
or http://classiques.uqac.ca/classiques/price_mars_jean/ainsi_parla_oncle/ainsi_parla_oncle.html
• Frantz Fanon, Peau Noir, Masques Blancs (1952),
• Edouard Glissant, Le discours antillais,
• Jacques Roumain, Gouverneurs de la rosée (1944),
or http://classiques.uqac.ca/classiques/roumain_jacques/gouverneurs_de_la_rosee/gouverneurs_de_la_rosee.html
• Aimé Césaire, Discours sur le colonialisme (1955),
• Dieumeme Noelliste, Les religions afro-caribéennes à la
lumière de la foi chrétienne: Similitudes et differences (2019)
• Patrick Chamoisseau, Eloge de la Créolité

*** Core Theological Texts and Ideas in English we will engage:

*David I. Mitchell, With Eyes Wide Open: A Collection of Papers by Caribbean Scholars on Caribbean Christian Concerns (1973)

*George MacDonald Mulrain, Theology in folk culture : the theological significance of Haitian folk religion (1984)

*Jean-Bertrand Aristide, In the Parish of the Poor: Writings from Haiti (1990)Kortright Davis, Emancipation Still Comin’: Explorations in Caribbean Emancipatory Theology ( 1990)

*Kortright Davis, Emancipation Still Comin’: Explorations in Caribbean Emancipatory Theology ( 1990)

*Robert E. Hood, Must God Remain Greek? Afro Cultures and God-Talk (1990)

*Noel Leo Erskine, Decolonizing Theology: A Caribbean Perspective (1998)Howard Gregory, Caribbean Theology: Preparing for the Challenges Ahead (1995)

*Howard Gregory, Caribbean Theology: Preparing for the Challenges Ahead (1995)

*Michelle A. González, Afro-Cuban Theology: Religion, Race, Culture, and Identity (2006)

*Michael St. Miller, A. Reshaping the Contextual Vision in Caribbean Theology: Theoretical Foundations for Theology Which Is Contextual, Pluralistic, and Dialectical ( 2007)

*George Mulrain. Caribbean Theological Insights: Exploring Theological Themes within the Context of the Caribbean Region (2014)

*Teresa A. Delgado, Puerto Rican Decolonial Theology: Prophesy Freedom ( 2017)

Articles: TBA

· Edwidge Danticat

· Sylvia Wynter

· Marcus Garvey

· Maryse Condé

· Jean Rhys

· Derek Walcott

· Jamaica Kincaid

· (Edward) Kamau Brathwaite

· V. S. Naipaul

· Jose Martí

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