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All Yah’s Children: Race, Spirituality and Neo-Logics of Diasporic Possibility


for Members

All Yah’s Children: Race, Spirituality and Neo-Logics of Diasporic Possibility

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wenner-Gren Foundation, 470 Park Avenue South, (between 31 and 32 Streets), 8th Floor

Presented By

Presented by the Anthropology Section


This talk examines Global Black Hebrewism by focusing on a group of African Americans who emigrated from the United States in the late 1960s. The piece analyzes this group’s journey from Chicago to Liberia, their initial stop, as well as their subsequent move to southern Israel, where they have resided for the past forty years. The presentation will place this particular version of “Black Hebrewism” in critical conversation with other contemporary and historical revisionist projects meant to theorize African American links to Hebraic/Jewish authenticity. The talk also describes how this transnational spiritual community is currently constituted, which includes a membership base that spans four continents. Emphasizing a transatlantic flow of practitioners, religious beliefs, and cultural practices, the piece seeks to demonstrate how “African Hebrew Israelites” throughout the United States, Africa, and Israel deploy mass media technology to construct a globally diverse spiritual community with its own specific theory of Diasporic identity/subjectivity.

A reception will precede the meeting at 6:00 pm


John L. Jackson, Jr

University of Pennsylvania

John L. Jackson, Jr., is the Richard Perry University Professor of Communication and Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. Before coming to Penn, Jackson taught in the Department of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and spent three years as a Junior Fellow at the Harvard University Society of Fellows in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Jackson received his BA in Communications (Radio, TV, Film) from Howard University in Washington DC and his PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University in New York City. As a filmmaker, Jackson has produced a feature-length fiction film, documentaries and film-shorts that have screened at film festivals internationally. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Harvard University's Milton Fund, and the Lilly Endowment (the latter during a year at the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina). He has published three books, Harlemworld: Doing Race and Class in Contemporary Black America (University of Chicago Press, 2001), Real Black: Adventures in Racial Sincerity (University of Chicago Press, 2005), and Racial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness (Basic, 2008). Jackson is currently writing a book on global Black Hebrewism (under contract with Harvard University Press). He is working on two documentary films, one about contemporary conspiracy theories in urban America, another examining the history of state violence against Rastafari in Jamaica.

Rebecca T. Alpert

Temple University