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Slave Religion: The "Invisible Institution" in the Antebellum South

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  132 ratings  ·  6 reviews
'Slave Religion' remains the pre-eminent synthesis of the religious life of slaves in the United States. This new edition considers the developments in the study of slavery, the religious encounter, religious culture, and reactions to the books over the past 25 years, as well as the ways the author would write it differently today.
Paperback, 416 pages
Published October 7th 2004 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 1978)
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A year ago when in NYC we walked by a bookstore and saw this book in the window. I wrote the title down and ordered it for my NOOK. I'm glad I did. It started as a doctoral thesis and morphed into this book. It is rich in detail, observations and brings to light another aspect of America's religious heritage...a long neglected part. It has made me want to read further about the impact of all religious traditions brought to this country, either willingly or by force. I know a bit about how being ...more
The strength of Raboteau's book for my purposes is its discussion on how slaves became familiarized with Christianity. Unlike many narratives, Raboteau's claims most of the slaves learned of the tradition from other blacks rather than from slaveowners. The author shows how the slaves could draw upon African traditions to integrate Christianity. Furthermore, religion acted as a lens through which we can see their creativity as many of the slaves had to act out their religions and rituals in secre ...more
Jamie Howison
This is something of a classic in the literature on the slave church. It started out as a doctoral thesis, but unlike some books that have that provenance, this one really engages. Sure, there is an incredible amount of detail - and a huge number of footnotes, reflecting Raboteau's careful research - but it still reads like a great piece of social history. He's clearly taken by the back-story of the black church, but certainly not in an overly romanticized way. Essential reading for me, as I con ...more
After reading excerpts of this book in a few anthologies and seeing it in the bibliographies of several books I liked, I decided to read the actual book. I understand the book's importance in it's field. It's a great read with a more expansive and nuanced discussion than just whether Christianity played a role in slaves docility or rebelliousness. A basic and interesting discussion on Africanisms in the Americas (Carribbean and South America vs. the US).
Seth Pierce
While providing an excellent overview of the religious practices of American slaves, I thought the author repeated himself a lot. I would have liked more emphasis on the folk religion of Africa and more details on how those elements were adapted into slave religion. I did find the general description of Christian life intersting and disturbing--particularly the hypocrisy of plantation owners. There are many inspirational stories included in the book as well.
Jan 19, 2008 Samira added it
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This book is a classic in it's feed and the book to which all African American religious history must respond. Therefore, it is something of a must read.
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