Cover image for The encyclopedia of African and African-American religions
The encyclopedia of African and African-American religions
Glazier, Stephen D.
Publication Information:
New York : Routledge, 2001.
Physical Description:
xx, 452 pages : illustrations, maps ; 29 cm.
General Note:
"A Berkshire Reference work."
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BL2462.5 .E53 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ
BL2462.5 .E53 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ

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This important new reference covers African and African-American religion in sub-Saharan Africa, North America, South America, and the Caribbean, and provides vital insights into its growing worldwide influence in Europe, Asia and the South Pacific. Entries encompass individuals, concepts, specific religions, religious movements and churches, and include: Akan, Aladura, AzusaStreet Mission, Black theology, candomble, Dominicanvodun, the Harrist movement, Jamaa, Macumba, Mission desNoirs, Mt. Sinai Holy Church, Nuer, Pentecostalism,Pocomania, Santería, Southern Christian LeadershipConference, Unification Church, Yoruba,and many more. Photos, illustrations, and source material round out the package.

Author Notes

Stephen D. Glazieris Professor of Anthropology at the University of Nebraska and vice-chair of the religion section of the American Anthropological Association.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This second volume in the Routledge Religion and Society series (The Encyclopedia of Millennialism and Millennial Movements was published last year [RBB D 1 00]) treats religious movements, churches, and the place of religion in African and African American societies. Special attention is given African-derived religion in many other countries--Brazil, Cuba, Jamaica, and other points in the Black Diaspora, comprising some 20 percent of the articles. Many of the articles are wide-ranging essays on such topics as Black theology, Spiritualism, Storefront churches, and Women and religious movements in sub-Saharan Africa; while others, such as Abyssinian Baptist Church, Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and Rastafari, focus on specific religious groups. Information on beliefs, practices, and historical development is complemented by commentary on the political and social context of religious expression and institutions. The 145 signed articles were written by more than 70 scholars from all over the world. Many of the contributors are anthropologists with a background in ethnographic research. A six-page bibliography is appended to supplement the bibliographies accompanying the articles. Given some of the assumptions and misinterpretations of the past study of African societies, a lengthy essay entitled "Anthropology of Religion in Africa: A Critique and Model" is appended as a cautionary note. Sidebar extracts from primary sources are scattered through the volume: for example, quotes from Malcolm X and W. E. B. Du Bois, passages from the periodical Crisis, excerpts from spirituals and poetry. Illustrations, photos, and maps appear throughout, although they are not of particularly high quality. There have been other major reference works published on African and African American religion and culture in the past decades. Two works, Encyclopedia of African American Religions (Garland, 1993) and Directory of African American Religious Bodies (2d ed., Howard University, 1995), are much stronger on some specifics of African American religious expression. The Garland title provides biographical entries on close to 800 African American religious leaders, and the Directory of African American Religious Bodies provides information on more than 1,000 organizations. However, neither of these earlier titles has much information on the African-derived religions of the African Diaspora outside of brief articles on voodoo and Rastafarianism. In addition, they have fewer essay-type articles. Other more general reference books, such as Africana (based on the Encarta Africana [Basic, 1999]), have a great deal of information on religious expression but perforce have not the space to treat these topics with much depth. Of particular value in the title under review are the theoretical articles on concepts and religious practices central to understanding African and African American religions, as are the surveys of religion in regions or nations. A necessary addition to academic and larger public libraries.

Library Journal Review

This work differs from the Encyclopedia of African-American Religions (Garland, 1993) in its international emphasis, its orientation toward anthropological and ethnographic methodologies, its inclusion of pictures and maps, and the currency of its entries and bibliographies. Glazier (anthropology, Univ. of Nebraska, Kearney) claims to have made a conscious effort not to duplicate information already available in the many recent reference books published on Africa and African Americans. As indicated by the title, this work includes the religions of Africa and the African diaspora in North America, South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. More than half of the contributors, who hail from 13 countries, including Jamaica, Mexico, Venezuela, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Austria, the Netherlands, and Canada, were trained in anthropology. The 145 entries are of greater length than the 1200 entries of the Encyclopedia of African-American Religions and include topics such as "Big Drum Dance of Carriacou," "Mother Earth and the Earth People," and "African and African-Derived Religions in Cyberspace." The Encyclopedia of African-American Religions is best for biographical profiles of African American religious leaders, while this encyclopedia is a good starting point for understanding the complex interrelationships among African, African American, and European religious beliefs, practices, and traditions in a global context. Recommended for all libraries.DMarc Meola, Coll. of New Jersey, Ewing (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Glazier (anthropology, Univ. of Nebraska-Kearney) and 70 scholars present 145 articles that explore the interaction of religion and culture and portray diversities of religious experience and research methodology. Religions outside North America, including lesser-known movements, receive the most coverage, and authors often present fruits of their own ethnographic studies. This results in a volume with unique articles but less than comprehensive coverage. "Mother Earth" of Trinidad, who has fewer than 20 followers, receives a main entry, while the 300,000-member Christian Methodist Episcopal denomination is omitted. Seeking to stress central features identified by W.E.B Du Bois--"the preacher, the music, and the frenzy"--this work falls short by giving scant attention to preachers and only cursorily discussing contemporary gospel music. Also absent is any significant treatment of higher education. The index, essential for accessing this work's information, is riddled with obstacles: names misspelled, entries out of alphabetical order, confused entries for personal names, and no clear criteria for inclusion. The work lacks the breadth and specificity required of an encyclopedia but is a rich sampling of religious expression. More useful, though limited to the US experience, is Encyclopedia of African American Religions, ed. by Larry G. Murphy et al. (CH, Mar'94). Academic collections. D. R. Rodgers Shawnee State University