Fetching Spiritual Power: Black Women's Preaching Bodies as African-Centered Womanist Oratory Open Access

Sampson, Melva Lenise (2016)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/ks65hc49s?locale=en


In Fetching Spiritual Power, I examine how Black women's bodies preach in ways that affirm the value of Black embodiment. Through the carving out of sacred spaces, Black women preachers use the performed word to intentionally disrupt the popular terrains where Black bodies are literally and metaphorically disembodied. African-centered womanist oratory, I contend, becomes a means through which Black women's bodies generate and transmit spiritual power from alternative sources to unfetter themselves and their communities from the remaining vestiges of racial and gender disparities. To support this claim, I use two concepts to tease out the features of Black women's embodied liberation preaching: fetching and Àjé. Fetching is the act of retrieving "old" or "indigenous" community practices in order to sustain one's current reality within interlocking oppressive systems. Tied to the principle of fetching is Àjé, the Yoruba principle that describes the capacity of creating and transforming people by way of powerful speech and divine authority. Fetching and àjé illuminate the unseen and unconscious connections between African American cosmology and religions of the African Diaspora, which are made manifest in the sacred preaching forms drawn upon by Black women preachers. Fetching Spiritual Power is using autoethnographic methods, and concludes that Black women's bodies, preach in culturally elaborated ways as spiritually powerful sign emitting texts that attend to their body and the embodied presence of others.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Fetching Spiritual Power 1

Chapter 1 Introduction

I. Introduction 5

II. Background 6

III. Problem Statement 11

IV. Purpose of the Study 15

A. Nature of the Study 17

B. Research Questions 17

V. Significance of the Study 19

VI. Theoretical Framework 20

A. The New Homiletic 22

B. Other-Wise Preaching 23

C. Black Preaching and Black Embodiment 24

D. Black Women's Embodiment in Homiletics 25

VII. Definitions 29

VIII. Scope, Limitations and Delimitations 30

IX. Chapter Summary 32

Chapter 2 Black Women's Bodies, Specialized Knowledge and Spiritual Power

I. Introduction 33

II. Àjé 34

A. The Sacred Empowered Mothers 34

B. The Power of the Word and the

Making of Witches/Witchcraft 37

III. Spiritual Power, Itineracy and Black Preaching Women 41

A. Itinerant Preaching 42

B. Itinerant Black Preaching Women 44

C. The Womanist Preacher 46

D. African Centered Preaching 47

IV. Black Women's Preaching Bodies as Àjé 49

A. Jarena Lee 50

B. Zilpha Elaw 52

C. Julia Foote 53

D. Rosa Horn 54

E. Ida Robinson 55

F. Prathia Hall 57

G. Teresa Fry Brown 58

V. Devaluation of Black Bodies 59

VI. Texts of Commodity 65

VII. Texts of Sexual Reproduction 69

VIII. A History of Conquest 76

IX. Specialized Knowledge 77

A. Alternative Pulpit 78

B. Black Feminist/Womanist and

Afrocentric Epistemology 81

C. Feeling the Body 87

X. African Spirituality in Black Women's Preaching Praxis 90

A. Fluid Boundaries 90

B. Double Consciousness 92

C. Myth of the Negro Past 93

D. Death of the African Gods 95

E. Transformed but not Extinguished 95

XI. Chapter Summary 100

Chapter 3 Research Methods and Design Appropriateness

I. Introduction 102

II. Performance Auto/ethnography 102

III. Methodology 105

A. Toward an Afrocentric Research Methodology 105

B. Setting 107

C. Sample Selection and Criteria 109

D. Constructs 111

E. Data Collection 111

F. Data Analysis 113

G. Coding 115

H. Inter-Rater Reliability 116

I. Validity and Reliability 117

J. Internal Validity 118

K. External Validity 120

L. Reliability 121

M. Research Bias and Assumptions 121

IV. Chapter Summary 122

Chapter 4 Presentation and Analysis of Data

I. Introduction 124

II. Fetching: Radical Examination, Re-Membering and

Loving Ourselves Regardless 126

A. Radical Examination 124

B. Mending the Broken Calabash:

A Ritual of Re-Membering 128

C. Loving Ourselves Regardless 130

D. Wholly Holy 131

III. Spiritual Power 134

A. Radical Subjectivity in Killing Season 137

B. Tarrying in Killing Season 142

IV. Divine Authority and Feminine Power 144

A. A Church and Community Mother 144

B. Principle of Unity 147

C. Gelede 151

D. New Afrikan Womanist 154

V. Power of the Word/Ase 155

VI. Chapter Summary 157

Chapter 5 Conclusions, Implications and Recommendations

I. Introduction 158

II. Conclusions and Discussion 159

A. No Separation between Secular and Sacred 166

B. We Can Survive This 167

C. Nommo and Ma ‘at 167

III. Limitations of the Study 169

IV. Implications for the Study of Homiletics in

American Religion and Raising Womanish Girls 170

A. Center Space 170

B. Raising Womanish Girls 172

V. Recommendations for Future Research 173

VI. Chapter Summary 173

Epilogue 177

Fetching Spiritual Power: Wake Up 177

Bibliography 179

Bibliography 179

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