Islam, Vodou, and the Making of the Afro-Atlantic

In: New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids
Aisha Khan Department of Anthropology, New York University.

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This paper considers how representations of Islam and Vodou have shaped the ways we understand Atlantic history, relations of power, and the symbolic importance of religion as an interpretive category. It emphasizes the Caribbean region’s trope of cosmopolitanism as a key organizing principle in historiography and theory building, arguing that although cosmopolitanism can be a valuable discursive strategy in self-reflexive constructions of identity, the concept marginalizes or elides Islam and leaves ambivalent space for Africa. The paper calls for re-examining how Muslims and Islam are conceptualized as world historical and Caribbean regional phenomena, and how implicit assumptions inform our analytical vocabulary.

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