Historicity of Survival Theory: African Culture in Religious Experience

Michael Cronk


Theories on the transference of African culture into America’s South through the Atlantic slave trade has a history of its own. This paper discusses the contributions of E. Franklin Frazier, Melville J. Herskovits, Albert Raboteau, Gayraud Willmore, Walter Rucker and others to the debate of African cultural survival versus African cultural desolation in America. It focuses on the part that evangelical Christianity played in the 18th century by giving African culture, and especially African religion, a venue for survival, adaptation and exchange. A short discussion is added regarding Creolization theory and New World historiography as methods to approach the discussion with a fresh perspective. The author suggests moving beyond regimented interpretations and toward a perspective which accepts a great exchange of culture despite African cultural suppression.

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