Afro-Atlantic Catholics: America's First Black Christians


Product Details

University of Notre Dame Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.0 X 0.75 inches | 1.35 pounds

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About the Author

Jeroen Dewulf is director of the Center for Portuguese Studies and professor in the Department of German and Dutch Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of a number of books, including The Pinkster King and the King of Kongo: The Forgotten History of America's Dutch-Owned Slaves and From the Kingdom of Kongo to Congo Square: Kongo Dances and the Origins of the Mardi Gras Indians.


"Jeroen Dewulf revolutionizes our understanding of the development of African American Christianity. Based on an extraordinary range of historical documents, the resulting narrative restores justice and dignity to countless generations of enslaved Africans who responded to harsh living conditions by organizing their own mutual-aid organizations focused on solidarity, care, comfort, and pride." --Hein Vanhee, curator and historian at the Royal Museum for Central Africa, Belgium

"Atlantic history at its finest, Jeroen Dewulf's Afro-Atlantic Catholics convincingly shows us why any study of social life in early modern Europe, Africa, or the Americas must take African Catholicism seriously. Dewulf not only shows us the ample reach and diversity of Catholic institutions but also offers a methodological lesson in studying the Atlantic world as an interconnected web, a single constellation. As comprehensive as it is insightful, this persuasive book is a welcome reminder that one of the most enduring legacies of Africa in the Americas might very well be Catholicism." --Michael Iyanaga, College of William & Mary

"Black Christianity in America has long been studied as a blend of indigenous African and Protestant elements. Jeroen Dewulf redirects the conversation by focusing on the enduring legacy of 17th-century Afro-Atlantic Catholics in the broader history of African American Christianity." --American Catholic Studies Newsletter

"Afro-Atlantic Catholics, a fascinating new book from a Belgian scholar at the University of California Berkeley, undertakes a starkly important, yet underserved task: tracing the history of Christianity in the New World through the lens of its African adherents--whom the author rightly calls 'America's first Black Christians.'" --Black Catholic Messenger

Afro-Atlantic Catholics shows how a sizable minority of enslaved Africans actively transformed the American Christian landscape and would lay a distinctly Afro-Catholic foundation for African American religious traditions today. This book will appeal to scholars in the history of Christianity, African American and African diaspora studies, and Iberian studies. -Church History, Book of the Month feature

"By marshalling a wealth of historical data and a good amount of anthropological and linguistic material, Afro-Atlantic Catholics delivers on its promise to outline the origin, character, and influence of America's first Black Christians. ...Dewulf has made this text both effective and rewarding. Scholars interested in Black Atlantic religious cultures and the historical roots of Black Catholicism will find this book illuminating and more than worth their while." --The Americas

"This superb, exhaustively researched, well-written and eloquently argued analysis is an important start for looking at this neglected root of Black Christianity in the Protestant Americas." --New West Indian Guide

"A useful guide for recognizing evidence of Afro-Atlantic culture in original research."--African Studies Quarterly