African Religious Survivals as Factors in American Slave Revolts
Author(s): William C. Suttles, Jr.
Source: The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 56, No. 2 (Apr., 1971), pp. 97-104
Published by: Association for the Study of African American Life and History
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2716232
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AFRICAN RELIGIOUS SURVIVALS AS FACTORS IN AMERICAN SLAVE REVOLTS by William C. Suttles, Jr. William C. Suttles, Jr. is a doctoral student in the Department of History at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. The historical experience of African peoples with religion has been incantatory. Religious ideas have been the instrument of ritual, and ritual the rhythm of being. Religious ideas have lived: they have been purposeful rather than mechanical, and eminent rather than transcendent. On the Old Continent as well as in the new world of enslavement, religion has been invoked, called upon by the faithful and embodied by them.1 Among the slaves in the new world, Haitian voudoun is only the most frequently mentioned of the African or African-derived religious modes; there were many others: Afro-Brazilian ketu sects, Afro-Cuban santeria, the winti cults of Guinea, obeah and myalism in Jamaica and the British Leeward Islands, and the conjuring of the “invisible churches” of the North American slave communities. These modes are not only important as data in the continuing argument over the extent of Africanisms in the new world. Voudoun and conjuring are just as important for the way in which they are responses to the American slave experience as they are as proofs of the continuity of African cultural tradition. They are fundamentally African in their epistemological sources, and in their “aestheti
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