Reimagining Africa-Diaspora Religious Connections: Global-Local Intersections of Immersive-Reflexive Praxis

2023, Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies

This article explores prospects for the formation of black community frameworks and consciousness that draw deeply and organically from black struggles and strivings and from principles and practices authentic to their experiences and hopes. While this emphasizes the importance of local contextualization, forming black community and consciousness across trans-local geographies requires deep engagement across the diversities and differences that distance black communities from one another. Cross-cultural immersive and reflexive methodologies are proving beneficial in this regard, and this article examines examples of such approaches within faith-related, academically centered formation. The immersive and reflexive approaches discussed here draw inspiration in part from educational theorists, including Paulo Freire and bell hooks, who emphasize the “conscientization” of both teacher and student as the goal of the learning process, and pedagogies that proceed from points of deep immersion and engagement with the context being served and that accord value and agency to the knowledge resident within those contexts. The significance of Africa to America’s racialized historical constructions (and to African American and Pan-Africanist identities) will be shown as informing a distinctive emphasis among segments of African Americans on connecting to Africa, including through immersive-reflexive models of cross-cultural engagement.