Special Issue "Slave Religion: Histories and Horizons"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 October 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. K. Merinda Simmons
Guest Editor
Associate Professor; Department of Religious Studies; Box 870264; The University of Alabama; Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0264
Interests: postcolonialism and race theory; social theory in the academic study of religion; identity studies and queer theory; diaspora and migration studies

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This special issue will offer a conversation among scholars that sees “slave religion” as an analytical starting point rather than as a clear object of study. They will respond to a pre-distributed text on the politics and practices of “recovery” in race studies. In so doing, these articles will identify and press points of contention, depart from and/or expand on the approach of the pre-distributed essay, and take relevant themes into new directions. The issue will thus reflect the broad-ranging applicability and significance of slave religion discourse in broader discussions about experience, race, diaspora, and subjectivity. By virtue of the varying perspectives brought to bear on the topic, the essays will be collectively a step forward in extending critical histories and theories of subjectivity in religious studies and will present new applications for conversations on race—too often siloed in the field.

Relevant questions for such a conversation include ones like: How does the terminology of slave religion still function for contemporary scholars? How might the last 30-or-so years of scholarship theorizing race and identity be brought more pointedly to bear on discussions of slavery/experience/history/subjectivity inside religious studies? Is there a place for recent turns in posthumanist thought (critiquing the notion of a stable human subject) in discourse on race and religion? In what ways is a history of “slave religion” also a history of the formation of Black Studies in 1960s–1970s academia (when work on the topic began establishing a formal foothold)? What implications do theoretical inroads on the topic have for broader work on identity and religion, experience and history, ancestry and futurity? What do careful, contextual readings of a system of economic/colonial relations offer to our understandings of the tropes that emerge from them (e.g., religion, experience, Atlantic, race, South, gender, etc.)?

The essays addressing such questions offer much to both slave religion discourse and social theory modes of engagement that prioritize sets of questions over discrete data sets. In The Fugitive’s Properties: Law and the Poetics of Possession (2004), Stephen M. Best identifies the symbolic figure/function of the slave as a “unique incarnation of a network of social relations” (6). Attending to networks of social relations rather than appealing to discrete histories provide inroads for a host of different avenues of inquiry within religious studies across a variety of data. If we are to theorize forward from the oft-construed dichotomies of materialism and poststructuralism, ontology and social constructivism, “lived experiences” and written narratives, these networks surely deserve careful attention.

Prof. K. Merinda Simmons
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • slave religion
  • social theory
  • race, diaspora
  • subjectivity
  • discourse analysis

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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