“Brief thought on the AAIHS’ 2019 Conference” (Ann Arbor, Michigan)
In the past two days (March 22 and 23, 2019), I had an opportunity to attend for the first time the African American Intellectual Society’s (#AAIHS2019) fourth annual conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The beautiful canpus of the University of Michigan was the chosen venue for the conference.
The theme of the conference was “Black Internationalism: Then and Now.” As an intellectual historian of the Caribbean (i.e. Haiti) and Black America (i.e. African American Intellectual History), I was both thrilled and excited to have the opportunity to engage with other scholars on the subject matter. Overall, my scholarship intersect intellectual musings on Haiti, African American Studies, and the global blackness or what I have called in my 2012 dissertation, “Black Transnational Consciousness.”
I attended several great panels that were both intellectually informative and stimulating, contributing to a greater knowledge and understanding of the nature and workings of Black Intellectualism and Pan-Africanism, ans history of Black thought/ideas. There were four major interventions that made my day:
1) The group panel/discussion on “The Common Wind,” a seminal and creative text by the African American historian Julius Scott on Black intellectual tradition in the Atlantic world. I was fortunate to hear Dr. Scott talk about his work and his response to the panelists.
2) The interview with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi on his intellectual works (i.e. “Stamped from the Beginning”) on racial ideas and and anti-racial ideas. He talked about his forthcoming book on how to be an anti-racist. Can’t wait to read that one!
3) The “Haiti: Then and Now” Panel with Drs. Geri ( moderator), Bertin Louis, Marlene Daut, Gregory Pierrot, and Celucien Joseph (me). Bert and I have been organising this panel for the past five years, in various professional guilds such as the National Council for Black Studies, Caribbean Studies Association, and now African American Intellectual History Society. Daut gave an impressive presentation on Haitian archives with a particular on the right representation of Haiti through literature and how Haitians represent themselves in public. She examines the nineteenth century La Gazette newspaper counters the false public representations of Haiti and the Haitian peoole.
Moreover, Pierrot examines various visual representations and images of Toussaint Louverture–in the past three hundred years. Louis explores the relationship between Haitian Protestantism in the Bahamas and the dilemma of Haitian Bahamians or Bahamians of Haitian descent pertaining to immigration, citizenship, human rights issues, social activism, etc. Finally, in my presentation, I discussed three pivotal historical moments (1956, 1959, and 1960) relating to Price-Mars’ Black Internationalism and Pan-Africanism.
4. Featured Authors’ Book Display
I was pleased to see two of my books on display at the Conference: “Vodou in the Haitian Experience: A Black Atlantic Perspective,” and “Between Two Worlds: Jean Price-Mars, Haiti, and Africa.” Both texts were published in 2017 and 2018 by Lexington Books. Thanks to the wonderful AAIHS Board for acknowledging my scholarship.
Overall, I enjoyed the fellowship, intellectual exchange, and friendship of the AAIHS. It was both a delight and joy to participate in this wonderful and well-organized conference. I look forward to the next AAIHS conference that will be held at UT Austin (Austin, Texas).
“A Little Moment of Hiatus and for Self-Criticism”
Whenever I feel like something is trying to control me or master my life, I withdraw from it, engage in active self-criticism and meditation, and relentlessly pursue other venues that would stimulate me toward (more and better) self-care, mental freedom, and greater spiritual intimacy with God.
Therefore, I’m taking a little break from social media for a month. I will be back on April 24, 2019 to continue our conversations on matters relating to moral and ethical virtues such as human compassion and justice, mutual reciprocity and interdependence, love and sacrifice, race relations and social justice, unity and reconciliation, forgiveness and tolerance, peace and human flourishing, as well as those topics pertaining to the ultimate value and worth, cosmic and redemptive love, and glorious excellency and majesty of God through Jesus Christ.
1. If you want to contact me, send me an email @ firstname.lastname@example.org
2. If you are interested in joining our team for the Haiti Impact Trip (July 17-25, 2019), send us an email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
or you may visit the website to learn more about it: https://hopefortodayoutreach.org
3. If you would like to make a donation toward the Haiti Impact Trip, just follow the same instructions in part 2.
See you in a month!
“Rethinking Early Christian History in Africa/ Early African Christianity and Early Christianity in the West”
A lot of black brothers and sisters are having a hard time embracing Christianity because of (1) the connection between Christianity and slavery in the Americas, and (2) the intimate rapport between christianity and colonization in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and other geographical places. (This is understandable, but not historically justified as the subject pertains to the early history of the Christian faith, and where it first emerged historically.)
As a result, those who have rejected Christianity on this basis claim that Christianity is the White Man’s Religion and the religion of slave masters . No, historically, “Historic Christianity” is not a religion invented by White Europeans or was it created by American and European slave masters. That has not been the case since in its inception! It is important to make a distinction between the Christianity of Jesus and the Apostles and the use of Christianity as a civil religion and cultural religion in the United States, for example. These are the ideological uses and exploitations of biblical Christianity during the time of slavery, colonization, political programs and campaigns, imperial projects and expansion, etc.
American and European slave masters and colonizers have used Christianity to carry out their own political and economic agendas–even today we continue to observe the unfortunate role and misuse of biblical Christianity in American politics and in the American culture.
In fact, historic christianity is closer to ancient African cultural traditions and practices than those of Christianity in modern Western societies or Western civilization. Christianity is not a product of Western civilization nor does it demonstrate the genius of the White people, as many ideologues and racists have propagated. Christianity is not a Western program or project although it has been used and misued in this way.
For example, early Christian history is very African and African Christias have contributed substantially to the beginning, shape, and development of Christianity in modern Western societies. The oldest Christian church in the world is located in Ethiopia, which indicates the early footsprints of Christianity in African soil and the influence of Africa in early christian history. There are thousands of Christian documents (i.e. theological, liturgical, spiritual, ecclesiastical concerns and disputes) written in the Coptic (and arabic) language, which were written in the Middle Ages and have yet to be translated in modern Anglosaxon languages such as French, Spanish, English, German, Italian, etc.
Did you also know that Christianity flourished in African soil during its first 600 years? Coptic Christianity is the most ancient form of Christianity in the world. Did you also know that Martin Luther, the great theologian and leader of the Protestant Reformation and the Father of Modern Protestant Christianity was influenced by the Coptic theology and ecclesiology of Ethiopian Christianity?
Christianity started to flourish in modern Western societies, in what we call in history the “modern era” or “modernity.” African Christianity laid both the intellectual and spiritual foundations for Christianity in modern Western societies.
Here are some good resources/recommendations to further your studies on the subject matter:
Part 3: How Books Work in the Academia
Since I have already explained in leghth in the past two posts (Parts 1 and) how academics assess or evaluate books and the creation of textual knowledge, in Part 3 of the last post, I’m just going to include the remaining “book shots.”
Part 2: How Books Work in the Academia
To continue my conversation about how books work in the academic world and how scholars assess important texts within the scope and contour of their respective discipline, for example, I took shots of a variety of influential books in the disciplines of history, religion, Christian theology, literature, philosophy, etc. Do not be quick to say this method is subjective! Yes and/ or No!
Normally, when a good book is published within a field of study, it makes a big noise among the scholars of that discipline. How?
Well, the book is reviewed in multiple academic journals; in academic conferences, academics would refer to that book in their presentation or talk; scholars in that discipline recommend it to other academics and their school’s library; they include that book in the “required reading list” in their syllabus, doctoral comprehensive examinations, or recommend the book to be reviewed in journals; and at conferences, both national and international, academics would also hold panels to discuss the relevance and significance of that book.
In other words, there’s a scholarly consensus about the noted text in view.
In the photos below, you will find a few referenced texts or examples of the matter I’m discussing in this post; they also happen to be books I really like 🙂
Part 1: Just in case you missed it: On Books and Their Impact on the Human Soul and the Academic World
Here are all the seven supposedly favorite books that I have listed as part of the game in the past seven days. I normally don’t like to list my favorite books because I read prolifically, interdisciplinarily, or across the disciplines, and that it is possible that I leave one out.
In addition, most scholars do not assess books in this manner: “this one is my favorite book” or ” this one is not.” Rather, we list seminal and influential texts within their respective discipline and the arguments the authors of the noted books articulate that changed or altered a particular perspective within this discipline of study. We assess books according to their discipline and say whether this particular new text has provided new understanding of this discipline or we could simply ask the following questions: how does this book in particular help us to understand a particular debate or issue (it could be an old or mysterious debate in history, for example), for example, in the field of African American Religion or Christian Erhics? Does it contribute new information or knowledge we didn’t already know about and that which other authors have not covered already in previously-published texts or academic articles?
We academics believe that human knowledge evolves, can be deconstructed and reconstructed, and reevaluated based on the time period (s) and connected historical events associating with it. We also believe that a text is written within a particular historical context and therefore the meaning of this text could be/is contextual, political, sociological, historical, and cultural. In other words, a particular body of knowledge embedded in a book has its own historical limitations and boundaries. Some textual knowledge could also die, fade away, or even become irrelevant in an academic field when a newly-discovered knowledge/information brings greater enlightenment, clarity, and precision. That does not mean we do not believe that some books have universal and transcultural values. Even if that is the case, (textual) knowledge is always and should be construed and analyzed within the boundary of reason and in its own time, milieu, or Sitz im Leben.
***Well, the most influential (collection of books) book in my life is the Bible. However, not every book in the Bible has marked my life the same way; some are more impactful (i.e. Deuteronomy, Psalm, Isaiah, Gospel of Matthew, Luke, John, Acts, Ephesians, Romans) than others (i.e. Ruth, Obadiah, Ekekiel, 1 and 2 Kings, Jude).