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By William David Hart (auth.)

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Additional info for Afro-Eccentricity: Beyond the Standard Narrative of Black Religion

Example text

Thus the claims of “biogenetic” and cultural ancestors must compete with the ancestors that we choose. And, above all else, that choice is ethical and political. Where Afrocentricity would erect a “Great Wall of Africa” designed to maintain its alleged purity and cultural homogeneity, AfroEccentricity throws open the gates, welcoming cultural exchange, the stranger, strange ideas and practices. We Afro-Eccentrics remember our ancestors by remembering their traditions and gods but not necessarily as they would have us remember.

As if in a literal dialogue, such interpretations and reproductions can also be silenced, articulated obliquely, paraphrased, exaggerated, quoted mockingly, or treated as antitypes of the legitimate self. —J. Lorand Matory, Black Atlantic Religion1 Introduction Informed by the perspective articulated in Matory’s observation, this chapter offers an extended meditation on Black Religion as the Ancestor Narrative through a reading of Paule Marshall’s novel Praisesong for the Widow. Though I employ techniques of literary criticism and theory, my primary goal is to assess the Black Religion as Ancestor Narrative as represented in this novel.

Her hard-knock life is tied tightly to this “do wrong man,” as they do 38 Afro-Eccentricity an undignified dance—one partner drunk, the other sober and sad— down Halsey Street. Avey’s undignified display horrifies Jay, reminding him of their unfortunate neighbor. Before he realizes what he is doing, Jay decides to control this “ghetto chaos,” to exorcise the demons that have driven Avey and him to the edge of a steep cliff. They might live in the ghetto, but the ghetto will not be permitted to live in them.

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