The African Catholic Diaspora

April 9, 2014
DePaul University

Dominic Pasura
~Research Fellow, Social Policy Research Centre, Middlesex University (London, UK)

Daniel McNeil
~Ida B. Wells-Barnett Professor of African & Black Diaspora Studies, DePaul University

Dominic Pasura's part of this session is titled "Experiences, Practices & Theologies of Zimbabwean Catholics in Britain," and he offers this summary: Over the past decades, the large-scale movement of Zimbabweans abroad--shaped by political & economic developments in the homeland as well as by broader global, economic & cultural trends at the time--has led to the formation of durable & transient diaspora communities across the globe. In response to the hostile mode of incorporation into Britain, what some Zimbabweans described as the biblical Egypt & Babylon, Zimbabwean Catholic congregations emerged as spaces to construct transnational identities as well as provide alternative forms of belonging, & have reinvented themselves as agents of reverse-mission to the host society. In the diaspora, we are not only witnessing the dislocation of the traditional family but also the reconfiguration of new forms of social relations--relations that are not based on blood or kinship ties but are fortified by Catholic faith & national narratives. In examining the experiences, practices & theologies of Zimbabwean Catholics in Britain, this talk pays particular attention to how the group emerged, the challenges, tensions & opportunities which arose within the British context, & how this case study informs us about global Catholicism.

Daniel McNeil's part of this session, titled "Sex, Shame & Sadism: Bond & the Black Diaspora," follows Philippa Schuyler--a concert pianist, Catholic writer, anti-Communist, war correspondent, “sexy novelist,” & femme fatale--as she sought to escape what she considered the “taint” of a black identity in the United States. It documents the cultural materials available for an ambitious, talented & lonely individual who tried to achieve success in the 1950s & 60s by attacking an African diaspora as an alien Other (that she linked to Communism, anti-colonialism & Negritude), & defending the authority of strong white rule (that she tied to European imperialism & the sadism of James Bond).

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