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Grant number: FT-255049-17

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Erin Kathleen Rowe
Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD 21218-2625)

Devotion to African Saints in Early Modern Global Catholicism

Research for a book on the development of devotion to African saints in Europe and the Americas during the early modern period. 

My project explores the global circulation of devotion to black saints, examining the intertwined histories of race and religion on local, national, and global scales. I argue that the promotion of black saints led the clergy to develop complex and ambivalent ideas about the spiritual meaning of blackness, which could resist the emerging discourses of early modern embodied racism while reinforcing the brutal regimes of slavery. It centers the role played by African diasporic communities in creating cults to black saints in ways that had a lasting impact on devotional practice. One of the key sources for the circulation of cults to black saints can be found in baroque polychrome sculpture that survive on the altars of former black confraternities (lay religious organizations) throughout the Catholic world. By bringing together visual and textual evidence, my project transforms our understanding of the role of religious ritual, the evolution of global devotion, and Atlantic identities.

Project fields:
European History; History of Religion; Latin American Studies

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2017 – 7/31/2017