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Embodiment and the New Shape of Black Theological Thought (Religion, Race, and Ethnicity)by Anthony B. Pinn
Synopses & Reviews
The World We Wish to See presents a sweeping view of twentieth-century political history and a stirring appeal to take political culture seriously. Samir Amin offers a provocative analysis of resistance to capitalism and imperialism and calls for a new politics of opposition. Capitalism is a global system, so ultimately any successful challenge to it must be organized on the same level: an "internationalism of peoples."
Throughout the twentieth century the socialist and communist internationals, national liberation movements, and great revolutions have presented challenges to the world order. Amin provides a succinct discussion of the successes and failures of these mobilizations, in order to assess the present struggle. Neoliberalism and the drive for military hegemony by the United States have spawned new political and social movements of resistance and attempts at international organization through the World Social Forum. Amin assesses the potential and limitations of these movements to confront global capitalism in the twenty-first century. The World We Wish to See makes a distinction between "political cultures and conflict" and "political cultures of consensus." A new politics of struggle is needed; one that is not afraid to confront the power of capitalism, one that is both critical and self-critical.
In this persuasive argument, Amin explains that effective opposition must be based on the construction of a "convergence in diversity" of oppressed and exploited people—whether they are workers, peasants, students, or any other opponent of capitalism and imperialism. What is needed is a new "international" that has an open and flexible organizational structure to coordinate the work of opposition movements around the world.
The World We Wish to See is a bold book, calling for an international movement that can successfully transcend the current world order, in order to pursue a better world. Amin's lucid analysis provides a firm basis for furthering this objective.
Black theology tends to be a theology about no-body. Though one might assume that black and womanist theology have already given significant attention to the nature and meaning of black bodies as a theological issue, this inquiry has primarily taken the form of a focus on issues relating to liberation, treating the body in abstract terms rather than focusing on the experiencing of a material, fleshy reality. By focusing on the body as a physical entity and not just a metaphorical one, Pinn offers a new approach to theological thinking about race, gender, and sexuality.
According to Pinn, the body is of profound theological importance. In this first text on black theology to take embodiment as its starting point and its goal, Pinn interrogates the traditional source materials for black theology, such as spirituals and slave narratives, seeking to link them to materials such as photography that highlight the theological importance of the body. Employing a multidisciplinary approach spanning from the sociology of the body and philosophy to anthropology and art history, Embodiment and the New Shape of Black Theological Thought pushes black theology to the next level.
About the Author
Anthony B. Pinn is the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University, where he also serves as the executive director of the Society for the Study of Black Religion. His books include Varieties of African-American Religious Experience, Why Lord?: Suffering and Evil in Black Theology, and By These Hands: A Documentary History of African-American Humanism (NYU Press, 2001).
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