Religion and the Creation of Race and Ethnicity: An Introduction

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NYU Press, Jun 1, 2003 - Religion - 243 pages
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Religion and the Creation of Race and Ethnicity is the first collection devoted to demonstrating the role that religion and myth have played in the creation of the categories of “race” and “ethnicity.”

When scholars approach religion and race, they tend to focus on such issues as how African Americans have expressed Christianity, or how Japanese or Mexicans have lived “religiously.” This volume, meant specifically for those new to the field, brings together an ensemble of prominent scholars and illuminates instead the role religious myths have played in shaping those very social boundaries that we call “races” and “ethnicities.” It asks, what part did Christianity play in creating “Blackness”? To what extent was Japanese or Mexican identity itself the product of religious life?

The text, comprised of all original material, introduces readers to the social construction of race and ethnicity and the ways in which these concepts are shaped by religious narratives. It offers examples from both the U.S. and around the world, exploring these themes in the context of places as diverse as Bosnia, India, Japan, Mexico, Zimbabwe, and the Middle East. The volume helps make the case that any account of the social construction of race and ethnicity will be incomplete if it fails to consider the influence of religious traditions and myths.

Contributors: Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., Joel Martin, Jacob Neusner, Roberto S. Goizueta, Laurie Patton, and Michael A. Sells.


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The Construction
Myth and African American SelfIdentity
The Ambivalent Promise
Blackness in the Nation of Islam
The Latterday Saints and Racial Categorization
The Heart of Mexican Identity
Myths Shinto and Matsuri
Islam Arabs and Ethnicity
Myths of Arya Varna
Religious Myth and the Construction of Shona Identity
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About the author (2003)

Craig R. Prentiss is Professor of Religious Studies at Rockhurst University, Kansas City, Missouri.

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