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Geographies of Redemption

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Abstract:

This paper argues that the secular emerges with some force in the context of Atlantic slavery. Slavery and Christianity had co-existed for more than 250 years when, in the 1730s, Christianity emerged as a powerful site of critique for anti-slavery advocates. The transition from Christianity as slavery’s accomplice to Christianity as slavery’s critique has its sources in the hybrid forms of African and European religion that emerged as Christian missionaries extended the gospel to Caribbean slaves and free blacks in the first half of the eighteenth century. While Christian afterlife has historically been a matter time—passing into eternity, with the secular understood as a point in time, “the ages of ages”—the mixing of Christian beliefs with African religions promoted a reconceptualization of afterlife as a matter of place—passing into God’s kingdom, with the secular understood as a place, “a world without end.” Drawing examples from slave narratives, funeral sermons, and elegiac poems, this paper demonstrates the gradual reimagination of both Christian afterlife and the secular world in geographical terms. Geographic metaphors, furthermore, become a dominant vehicle for George Washington’s memorialization in the many elegies occasioned by his death in 1799. The paper concludes with these secular elegies in order to explain how a secularized conception of afterlife, borne of slavery and missionary work, takes particular hold in what, by the end of the eighteenth century, had become the United States.
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Name: American Studies Association Annual Meeting
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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p243773_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Stein, Jordan. "Geographies of Redemption" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hyatt Regency, Albuquerque, New Mexico, <Not Available>. 2014-11-30 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p243773_index.html>

APA Citation:

Stein, J. A. "Geographies of Redemption" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hyatt Regency, Albuquerque, New Mexico <Not Available>. 2014-11-30 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p243773_index.html

Publication Type: Internal Paper
Abstract: This paper argues that the secular emerges with some force in the context of Atlantic slavery. Slavery and Christianity had co-existed for more than 250 years when, in the 1730s, Christianity emerged as a powerful site of critique for anti-slavery advocates. The transition from Christianity as slavery’s accomplice to Christianity as slavery’s critique has its sources in the hybrid forms of African and European religion that emerged as Christian missionaries extended the gospel to Caribbean slaves and free blacks in the first half of the eighteenth century. While Christian afterlife has historically been a matter time—passing into eternity, with the secular understood as a point in time, “the ages of ages”—the mixing of Christian beliefs with African religions promoted a reconceptualization of afterlife as a matter of place—passing into God’s kingdom, with the secular understood as a place, “a world without end.” Drawing examples from slave narratives, funeral sermons, and elegiac poems, this paper demonstrates the gradual reimagination of both Christian afterlife and the secular world in geographical terms. Geographic metaphors, furthermore, become a dominant vehicle for George Washington’s memorialization in the many elegies occasioned by his death in 1799. The paper concludes with these secular elegies in order to explain how a secularized conception of afterlife, borne of slavery and missionary work, takes particular hold in what, by the end of the eighteenth century, had become the United States.


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