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Relevant Books.

Honey, Maureen. Aphrodite's Daughters: Three Modernist Poets of the Harlem Renaissance. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2016, 288 pages, 21 photographs, ISBN: 978-0-8135-7078-5

This work paints a portrait of three African American women--Angelina Weld Grimke, Gwendolyn B. Bennett, and Mae V. Cowdery--who came from very different backgrounds but converged in late 1920s Harlem to leave a major mark on the literary landscape. Thus, the author examines the varied ways these poets articulated female sexual desire, ranging from Grimke's invocation of a Sapphic goddess figure to Cowdery's frank depiction of bisexual erotics to Bennett's risky exploration of the borders between sexual pleasure and pain. The book also considers how they were united in their commitment to the female body as a primary source of meaning, strength, and transcendence. The product of extensive archival research, the book draws from Grimke, Bennett, and Cowdery's published and unpublished poetry, along with rare periodicals and biographical materials, to explore the lives of these women and the world in which they lived. It thus not only shows how their artistic contributions and cultural interventions were vital to their own era, but also, it demonstrates how the poetic heart of their work keeps on beating. The author is a professor of English and women's and gender studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Middleton, Darren J. N. Rastafari and the Arts: An Introduction. New York, NY: Routledge, 2015, pp. 300, ISBN: 9781134625031.

Drawing on literary, musical, and visual representations of and by Rastafari, the author provides an introduction to Rasta through the arts, broadly conceived to consider the relationship between the artistic and religious dimensions of the movement in depth. The book complements current introductions to Afro-Caribbean religions and offers an engaging example of the role of popular culture in illuminating the beliefs and practices of emerging religions. Recognizing that outsiders as well as insiders have shaped the Rasta movement since its modest beginnings in Jamaica.

Turner, Diane, ed. Feeding the Soul: Black Music, Black Thought. Chicago, HL: Third World Press, 2010, pp. 571, ISBN: 088378226X.

An Africa-centered framework unifies the essays in this book concerning misconceptions in standard accounts about the evolution of Black music. Topics are cross-disciplinary and include Africa and the African diaspora, Black popular music in the U.S., Black consciousness and art, Black message music, and the future of rap. Also included are poems by Nicole Sealey and Sandra Turner-Barnes; personal narratives by gospel music scholar James E. Adams and blues musician Byard Lancaster; and interviews with Katherine DeChavis, Kenny Gamble, Wynton Marsalis, Trudy Pitts, Shirley Scott, Ira Tucker, and McCoy Tyner. Rare archival photographs of musical pioneers complete this collection that leads to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the rich traditions of Black music.

Gomez, Pablo F. The Experiential Caribbean: Creating Knowledge and Healing in the Early Modern Atlantic. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2017, pp. 314, ISBN: 978-1-4696-3087-8.

Opening a window on a dynamic realm far beyond imperial courts, anatomical theaters, and learned societies, the author of this book examines the strategies that Caribbean people used to create authoritative, experientially based knowledge about the human body and the natural world during the long seventeenth century to treat the early modern intellectual culture of these mostly Black and free Caribbean communities on its own merits and not only as it relates to well-known frameworks for the study of science and medicine. Drawing on an array of governmental and ecclesiastical sources--notably Inquisition records, the book highlights more than one hundred African ritual practitioners regarded as masters of healing practices and as social and spiritual leaders. Thus, the work shows how people developed evidence-based healing principles based on sensorial experience rather than on dogma; and elucidates how they nourished ideas about the universality of human bodies, which contributed to the rise of empirical testing of disease origins and cures. The author is an assistant professor in the Department of Medical History and Bioethics and the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Mbiti, John S. Introduction to African Religion (second edition). Long Grove, HL: Waveland Press, 2015, pp.215, ISBN: 1478627069.

This book sheds light on the survival and prosperity of African Religion in different historical, geographical, sociological, cultural, and physical environments to present a constellation of African worldviews, beliefs in God, use of symbols, valued traditions, and practices that have taken root with African peoples throughout the vast continent of Africa. Hence, the author sympathetically portrays how African Religion manifests itself in ritual, festival, healing, the human life cycle, and interplay with the mystical and invisible world to embrace foundational traditions, while touching on elements that spawn transitions, including migration, the spread of Christianity and Islam, political-economic development, and modern communication. The author is an emeritus professor at the University of Bern in Bern, Switzerland.

Davis, Stephen and Helene Lee. The First Rasta: Leonard Howell and the Rise of Rastafarianism. Chicago, IL: Chicago Review Press, 2012, pp.320, ISBN: 9781613745649.

This work moves beyond the standard imagery of Rasta--ganja, reggae, and dreadlocks--this cultural history offers an uncensored vision of a movement with complex roots and the exceptional journey of a man who taught an enslaved people how to be proud and impose their culture on the world. In the 1920s Leonard Percival Howell and the First Rastas had a revelation concerning the divinity of Haile Selassie, king of Ethiopia, that established the vision for the most popular mystical movement of the 20th century, Rastafarianism. Although jailed, ridiculed, and treated as insane, Howell, also known as the Gong, established a Rasta community of 4,500 members, the first agro-industrial enterprise devoted to producing marijuana. In the late 1950s the community was dispersed, disseminating Rasta teachings throughout the ghettos of the island. A young singer named Bob Marley adopted Howell's message, and through Marley's visions, reggae made its explosion in the music world.

Amuta, Ghidi. Theory of African Literature: Implications for Practical Criticism. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2017, ISBN: 9781786990068.

This work argues that African literature is best approached within the wider framework of the dismantling of colonial rule and Western hegemony in Africa. Thus, the author draws upon classical Marxist aesthetics and the theories of African culture espoused by Frantz Fanon, Amilcar Cabral, and Ngugi wa Thiong'o in order to establish a new language of criticism, which then applies to a diverse array of works by modern African writers such as Chinua Achebe, Ousmane Sembene, Agostinho Neto, and Dennis Brutus. The author is chairman of the editorial board for the Nigerian Daily Times, he was previously a senior lecturer in literature and communications at the universities of Ife and Port Harcourt.

Joseph, Celucien L (Foreword by Schallum Pierre). Thinking in Public: Faith, Secular Humanism, and Development in Jacques Roumain. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2017, pp.477, ISBN: 1498203817.

This book provides a meditation on the intellectual life and legacy of Jacques Roumain, and thus, it investigates the intersections of religious ideas, secular humanism, and development within the framework of Roumain's public intellectualism and cultural criticism embodied in his prolific writings. Second, it presents a reconceptualization of Roumain's intellectual itineraries against the backdrop of two public spheres: a national public sphere (Haiti) and a transnational public sphere (the global world); and remaps and reframes Roumain's intellectual circuits and his critical engagements within a wide range of intellectual traditions, cultural and political movements, and philosophical and religious systems. Next, the book argues that Roumain's perspective on religion, social development, and his critiques of religion and institutionalized Christianity were substantially influenced by a Marxist philosophy of history and secular humanist approach to faith and human progress. And finally, the book advances the idea that Roumain's concept of development is linked to the theories of democratic socialism, relational anthropology, distributive justice, and communitarianism to demonstrate that Roumain believed that only through effective human solidarity and collaboration can serious social transformation and real human emancipation take place.

Naremore, James. Charles Burnett: A Cinema of Symbolic Knowledge. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2017, pp. 250, ISBN: 9780520285538.

This is the first book devoted to Charles Burnett, often regarded as the most influential member of the LA Rebellion group of African American filmmakers, hence the author provides a close critical study of all Burnett's major pictures for movies and television, including Killer of Sheep, To Sleep with Anger, The Glass Shield, Nightjohn, The Wedding, Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property, and Warming by the Devil's Fire. Having accessed new information and rarely seen material, the author shows that Burnett's career has developed against the odds and that his artistry, social criticism, humor, and commitment to what he calls "symbolic knowledge" have given his work enduring value for American culture.

Horne, Gerald. Facing the Rising Sun: African Americans, Japan, and the Rise of Afro-Asian Solidarity. New York: New York University Press, 2018, pp. 240, ISBN: 9781479848591.

This book tells the story of the widespread pro-Tokyo sentiment among African Americans during World War II, arguing that the solidarity between the two groups was significantly corrosive to the U.S. war effort. Thus, the author demonstrates that Black Nationalists of various stripes were the vanguard of this trend--including followers of Garvey and the precursor of the Nation of Islam. Based upon exhaustive research, including the trial transcripts of the pro-Tokyo African Americans who were tried during the war, congressional archives and records of the Negro press, this book also provides background for what many analysts consider the coming "Asian Century" via a complex, holistic perspective on a painful period in African American history. The author is the Moores Professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston.

Mbah, Emmanuel M. and Augustine E. Ayuk, eds. The African Civil Service Fifty Years after Independence With Case Studies from Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2017, pp.184, ISBN: 9781611639100.

This book provides an overview of the civil service in colonial and post-independence Africa. Using case studies from several countries, it examines the reasons for its growth and expansion; scrutinizes reform proposals, including "first and second generation" reforms and their implications; and formulates proposals for dealing with the civil service in future. Hence, it aims to examine the numerous challenges/structural problems faced by the civil service, especially during periods of austerity in Africa.

Price, Richard and Sally. Saamaka Dreaming. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017, pp.280, 43 illustrations, ISBN: 9780822369660.

In this work the authors reflect on their fieldwork with the Saamaka Maroons of Suriname in 1966, hence, how they were met with a mixture of curiosity, suspicion, ambivalence, hostility, and fascination, but with their gradual acceptance into the community they undertook the work that would shape their careers and influence the study of African American societies throughout the hemisphere. Drawing on thousands of pages of field notes, as well as recordings, file cards, photos, and sketches, they retell and comment on the most intensive fieldwork of their careers, evoke the joys and hardships of building relationships and trust, and outline their personal adaptation to this unfamiliar universe. Richard Price taught for many years at Yale and Johns Hopkins University and is Professor Emeritus at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Sally Price has taught in the United States, France, and Brazil and is Professor Emerita at the College of William and Mary (Williamsburg, Virginia).
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Publication:Journal of Pan African Studies
Article Type:Recommended readings
Date:May 1, 2017
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