The Forgotten South: African Religious Traditions and Their Global Impact

WRIG Presentation Friday, June 19, 2009 3:00-4:00pm
Robert M. Baum, PhD
Chair of the Department of Religious Studies
University of Missouri in Columbia
Dr. Robert M. Baum will begin with images of African religions, which arose during the era of the Atlantic slave trade and the subsequent colonization of Africa, helping legitimate the activities of Europeans in Africa. He will proceed to identify some commonalities in African religions, including their concepts of a supreme being, of divine judgment and the afterlife, of lesser spirits, gender roles, and their this-worldly focus. He will conclude with a discussion of the impact of Christianity and Islam in Africa and the influence of African religions in African Christian communities, as well as the increasingly global influence of African religions.
Dr. Robert M. Baum is Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Missouri in Columbia. He has taught courses in Indigenous Religions (African, Australasian, and Native American), Islam, and the history of religions. His current research focuses on the history of Diola prophets, people claiming direct revelation from the supreme being within an indigenous African religion. Since French colonization, their prophets have changed from being all men to being mostly women. In 1974 he began to live in a southern Diola community, learned the language, and has continued to return there to conduct historical and ethnographic research.