A Better WORLD from Learnings of the African Diaspora

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Hörsaal 48 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
This paper engages findings from a field investigation of Cuban African descendants’ religious practices that were adjusted, sustained, and/or recreated from ancestors who retained and transformed their continental customs for new situations of Spanish colonial society. The intent is to comprehend contributions these colonial and contemporary practitioners can offer toward visioning a “better world.”

            Despite the enslaved status of ancestors to contemporary AfroCuban descendants, research findings demonstrate that several Africa-inspired religious traditions are linked to colonial customs. This reaffirms that humans, including African descendants have used religious rituals and practices to incorporate survival techniques to help sustain their sense of humanity no matter social, political, and economic circumstances. This reality can assist our visioning a “better world,” one not dependent on singular assimilation model(s) but inclusive of the healthy continuation of our global communities’ cultural practices.

            The paper reviews how, through four hundred years of the Americas’ repressive intentions, colonial and contemporary African descendants have adjusted, created, and sustained religious practices that kept alive their Africa-inspired epistemological and cosmological core to help construct rituals, customs, and traditions that undergird distinct behavioral understanding of an “African way of life.” This reality is exemplary of how those in the Americas portion of the African Diaspora have demonstrated on-going capacity to sustain their sense of humanity by employing Africa-inspired principles to build social spaces, express self-identity, and transfer religious understandings to new generations. However, sociological literature rarely acknowledges or conveys full comprehension that descendants’ African-inspired patterns under gird much of these human groups’ social practices. The paper proposes that we must comprehend how these patterned understandings do or do not represent humans’ ability to vision their world and a future.