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Ecué's Atlantic: An Essay in Methodology

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image of Journal of Religion in Africa

Arguing from an exposition of the principal epistemological and methodological problems that have plagued African-Americanist research since its inception as a properly disciplined anthropological pursuit, this essay focuses on an ostensibly 'clear' case of 'transatlantic continuities' to question linear construction of historical relations between 'African' and 'African-American' cultural forms. Detailing the social history of an African male initiatory sodality and its supposed Cuban equivalent within their wider political economic contexts, I argue that the apparent dispersion of Cross-River-type secret societies ought not to be seen as a pattern of diffusion from a (temporally prior) point of inception to (temporally later) sites of recreation, but as a total pattern of simultaneous 'Atlantic' eventuation and cultural production.

Affiliations: 1: University of Chicago, Department of Anthropology, 1126 E 59th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA


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