Journal Article

W. E. B. Du Bois: Interpreting Religion and the Problem of the Negro Church

Curtis Evans

in Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Published on behalf of American Academy of Religion

Volume 75, issue 2, pages 268-297
Published in print June 2007 | ISSN: 0002-7189
Published online May 2007 | e-ISSN: 1477-4585 | DOI:
W. E. B. Du Bois: Interpreting Religion and the Problem of the Negro Church

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W. E. B. Du Bois's contribution to the study of the Negro Church was his historical argument about the viability and influence of African culture. Du Bois asserted the partial autonomy and creativity of black culture. This was a crucial achievement in his day when normative theories of African cultural “backwardness” prevailed. Du Bois's detailed analyses of particular local black communities also enriched his theories on black culture and made possible more accurate generalizations about social change in black communities, an important task in a time when measurements of black progress or decline consumed observers of the “Negro Problem.” Du Bois anticipated postmodernist debates about Western religious claims to universality, and in his work among African Americans, he wrestled with many issues that we currently engage with in the contemporary self-reflective mode of our discipline. His work challenged the theoretical boundaries of the newly emerging disciplines of religion, sociology, and anthropology.

Journal Article.  12503 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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