Studium Generale - Black Christianity and the Transatlantic Salve Trade

Black Christianity and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Date: Time: 13:00 Location: Black Box Esplanade building, Tilburg University

Why did Black Americans embrace the religion of the very same people responsible for the enslavement of their ancestors? A lecture on Afro-Atlantic Catholics by Berkeley professor Jeroen Dewulf. (SG certificate*)

Time: 13:00 - 14:15 hrs.  
Free entrance, registration required.

Register for this symposium here


If, as is often argued, Christianity was thrust upon them by those who bore responsibility for an African cultural and religious genocide, how then are we to understand the paradox that so many descendants of enslaved people have come to embrace this faith so passionately? 

New perspectives

This lecture attempts to answer these questions from a new perspective, by acknowledging that, not unlike Islam, Christianity is also an African religion. It was perceived as such by a significant minority of the enslaved population. Jeroen Dewulf provides historical evidence that unequivocally demonstrates how enslaved communities accross the Americas included substantial numbers of ‘Afro-Atlantic Catholics’. Africans who had embraced Africanized versions of late-medieval Portuguese Catholicism. In his talk presentation, Berkeley professor Jeroen Dewulf highlights the history and characteristics of this early form of African Catholicism and demonstrates its strong influence on the development of Black Christianity (both Catholic and Protestant) in the Americas.

Jeroen Dewulf 

Jeroen Dewulf is Queen Beatrix Professor in Dutch Studies as well as in Folklore at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also an affiliated researcher of the Department of History and its Center for African Studies at the University of Lisbon, in Portugal.

His most recent book publications include The Pinkster King and the King of Kongo: The Forgotten History of America’s Dutch-Owned Slaves (2017), From the Kingdom of Kongo to Congo Square: Kongo Dances and the Origins of the Mardi Gras Indians (2017), The Congo in Flemish Literature: An Anthology of Flemish Prose on the Congo, 1870s-1990s (2020), and Afro-Atlantic Catholics: America’s First Black Christians (2022). 

His latest book was awarded the prestigious John Gilmary Shea Prize of the American Catholic Historical Association.

Afroatlantic bookcover

More information

This lecture is organized by Studium Generale and Tilburg School of Catholic Theology (TST).

Contact: Has Klerx (Studium Generale)

* This event will count towards the SG-Certificate for students. 

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