Season 1, Episode 5

Religion & Reimagining Black Futures

The field of Africana Religious Studies has undergone significant reappraisal in the last 10 years.  Specifically, the field has begun to actively and from an interdisciplinary perspective engage the idea of futurity and Afro-diasporic futures. Scholars from across the spectrum are advancing new approaches to understanding the human condition and social institutions in an age of intelligent machines, social media and technological innovation. In this panel, we will look at the emerging approaches to Black futures in the fields of religious studies and American studies and how approaches from new media, social sciences and brain sciences have opened new models for studying Black religious futures.  Join humanities and social science scholars for a conversation at the intersection of religion, technological innovation and Black futures.

Co-Host: Sylvester Johnson

Sylvester Johnson, the founding director of the Virginia Tech Center for Humanities, is a nationally recognized humanities scholar specializing in the study of technology, race, religion, and national security. His award-winning scholarship is advancing new approaches to understanding the human condition and social institutions of power in an age of intelligent machines and other forms of technology innovation.

Sylvester's full bio

Co-Host: Joseph L. Tucker Edmonds

Joseph L. Tucker Edmonds is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Africana Studies and Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at Indiana University Indianapolis. His research interests are black and womanist theologies, alternative Christianities in the black Atlantic, and the role of scripture in African and African American religious traditions. Joseph has received grants from the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning, the Fund for Theological Education, and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. His most recent scholarship has focused on the relationship between alternative Christian movements and the Black body with a recent article entitled “The Canonical Black Body: Alternative African American Religions and the Disruptive Politics of Sacrality” in the journal Religions. In addition to his focus on African and African American Christian traditions, Tucker Edmonds is a noted teacher and an engaged scholar. He serves as the president of the local Indianapolis branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), is a member of the editorial board of the Wabash Center’s Journal on Teaching, and is currently leading a community-engaged project that is studying the impact of COVID-19 on Black arts and cultural institutions in Indianapolis.

Joseph's full bio

Panelist: Melanie L. Harris

Melanie L. Harris is Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Texas Christian University. A former American Council of Education Fellow and graduate of the Harvard Leadership Program, Melanie’s research focuses on Inclusive Excellence, access and equity in higher education and ethical leadership. Her scholarship critically examines intersections between race, religion, gender and environmental ethics.  She is the author of many scholarly articles and books including Gifts of Virtue: Alice Walker and Womanist Ethics (Palgrave 2010), Ecowomanism: Earth Honoring Faiths (Orbis 2017) and co-editor of Faith, Feminism, and Scholarship: The Next Generation (Palgrave 2011).

Melanie's full bio

Panelist: Corey Miles

Corey Miles is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. His research situates Black aesthetics as a mechanism to transform structures of oppression, particularly the criminal justice system. His authored work in scholarly journals ranges from examinations of Black feminist subjectivity in trap music to empirical explorations of the intersections of media and state violence towards Black bodies.


Corey's full bio

This event took place on February 18th, 2021.

Additional Resources

“Religion &”: Center Conversations on the State of Religion and the Current Moment

“Religion &” is a series of monthly conversations between leading academics and thinkers in multiple fields hosted by the Center to continue these critically important interventions.  Every Third Thursday at 3p ET we discuss a topic that looks at the relationship between religion, the pressing issues of our day, and their impact on the fields we study.

Previous episodes of “Religion &” can be viewed on our YouTube channel.

A JOURNAL OF INTERPRETATION: This semiannual publication explores the interplay between religion and other spheres of American culture.

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