This call for papers is for a session on Materialities and Meanings of Rituals in Atlantic Africa and the African Diaspora being organized at the 2009 SHA Conference in Toronto to bring archaeologists working on either or both sides of the Atlantic together to offer interdisciplinary and comparative perspectives on ritual actions. We are particularly interested in comparisons of sites dating to the sixteenth through the twentieth centuries; in diverse political-economic contexts; from societies and polities in Africa; to the African communities in colonial and plantation settings in the Americas; as well as the Maroon and post-slavery societies in North America, Caribbean, and Latin America.
Rituals, especially those connected to death, birth, healing, protection, and other transformative stages of life, account for one of the most persistent and enriching spheres of social action where African and African Diaspora communities and individuals expressed their values, ideas, beliefs, spirituality, and sociopolitical/ideological interests. After years of ambivalence towards ritual action by many archaeologists- rightly so, because of the ambiguities of recognizing and recovering meanings of ritual actions in archaeological contexts- anthropologists working in interdisciplinary spaces (especially historical archaeologists) have developed important contextual and theoretical approaches that enable us to simultaneously explore what ritual is, and what rituals do. More important, scholars who reject the dichotomy between secularity and spirituality in the study of rituals; and those who privilege practice-oriented theories, have developed sophisticated approaches to the understanding of materialities and meanings of ritual actions in the archaeological records. All these challenge us to think more robustly about ritual actions in the Atlantic African world, especially given the boom in the archaeological study of African and African Diaspora rituals in recent years. We believe we are indeed ready for comparative, transatlantic, and theoretical syntheses on this subject.
Participants are being asked to address issues of methodology in recovering materialities of ritual in the archaeological records; and the contexts, meanings, and transformative powers/roles of rituals in everyday lives. We are also seeking papers that theoretically engage how African and African Diaspora communities addressed issues of domination, authority, power, agency, resistance, freedom, independence, ideology, consumption, identities, beliefs, values, ideas of self-realization, spirituality, among others in their ritual actions. Ritual actions can involve any activity, such as burial practices, votive offerings, healing and protective measures. Participants are also encouraged to pay attention to the use of both widely circulated commodities in the Atlantic World - cowries, beads, bottles, shoes, cloth, etc.- and specific local objects- animal bones, plants, clay artifacts, etc, in ritual actions.
The session, we hope, will contribute to the comparative understanding of the archaeology of contemporaneous African communities on both sides of the Atlantic.
Interested participants should contact and send their abstracts to Akin Ogundiran (firstname.lastname@example.org) and/or Paula Saunders (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org ). We encourage those interested to contact us as soon as possible. Online registration will officially open on May 1. For SHA's submission guidelines, visit http://www.sha.org/documents/2009SHACallforpapersFinal.pdf. Thank you.
African-New World Studies
Florida International University
North Miami, FL 33181
Send comments and questions to H-Net
Webstaff. H-Net reproduces announcements that have been submitted to us as a
free service to the academic community. If you are interested in an announcement
listed here, please contact the organizers or patrons directly. Though we strive
to provide accurate information, H-Net cannot accept responsibility for the text of
announcements appearing in this service. (Administration)