Creating Ourselves

African Americans and Hispanic Americans on Popular Culture and Religious Expression

Creating Ourselves

Book Pages: 400 Illustrations: Published: November 2009

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, Chicanx and Latinx Studies, Religious Studies

Creating Ourselves is a unique effort to lay the cultural and theological groundwork for cross-cultural collaboration between the African and Latino/a American communities. In the introduction, the editors contend that given overlapping histories and interests of the two communities, they should work together to challenge social injustices. Acknowledging that dialogue is a necessary precursor to collaboration, they maintain that African and Latino/a Americans need to cultivate the habit of engaging “the other” in substantive conversation. Toward that end, they have brought together theologians and scholars of religion from both communities. The contributors offer broadly comparative exchanges about the religious and theological significance of various forms of African American and Latino/a popular culture, including representations of the body, literature, music, television, visual arts, and cooking.

Corresponding to a particular form of popular culture, each section features two essays, one by an African American scholar and one by a Latino/a scholar, as well as a short response by each scholar to the other’s essay. The essays and responses are lively, varied, and often personal. One contributor puts forth a “brown” theology of hip hop that celebrates hybridity, contradiction, and cultural miscegenation. Another analyzes the content of the message transmitted by African American evangelical preachers who have become popular sensations through television broadcasts, video distribution, and Internet promotions. The other essays include a theological reading of the Latina body, a consideration of the “authenticity” of representations of Jesus as white, a theological account of the popularity of telenovelas, and a reading of African American ideas of paradise in one of Toni Morrison’s novels. Creating Ourselves helps to make popular culture available as a resource for theology and religious studies and for facilitating meaningful discussions across racial and ethnic boundaries.

Contributors. Teresa Delgado, James H. Evans Jr., Joseph De León, Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, Angel F. Méndez Montoya, Alexander Nava, Anthony B. Pinn, Mayra Rivera, Suzanne E. Hoeferkamp Segovia, Benjamín Valentín, Jonathan L. Walton, Traci C. West, Nancy Lynne Westfield, Sheila F. Winborne


“[T]his is an excellent text and a vital resource for the classroom and research. It appeals not only to scholars of religion and popular culture and individuals interested in African-Americans and Latino/a communities, but also to anyone who would like to see a model of collaborative academic dialogue.” — Michelle A. Gonzalez, Theological Studies

“I found the structure of the work innovative and very much needed in scholarly circles. . . . Overall, I enjoyed reading Creating Ourselves as the subject of creativity in all different forms, styles, colours, and shadows is part of our daily life.” — Anna Hamling, Feminist Review Blog

“Pinn and Valentin's aim is to create a space for dialogue while, at the same time, opening up an avenue for critique and bridge building. The format is a good one…. [T]his volume will… lead to further discussion between the two traditions and should lead to more academic presentations, essays, panel discussions, and books." — Andre E. Johnson, Journal of African American History

“The editors have assembled a very creative set of essays by African American and Hispanic theologians reflecting on popular culture and religious expression within their communities. The great strength of this collection is found in the dialogical set-up wherein an African theologian presents an essay, which a Hispanic theologian comments upon, and vice-versa throughout the volume.” — L. H. Mamiya, Choice

Creating Ourselves should be welcomed by all those concerned with inequalities in our society. It approaches popular culture from the perspective of social justice while employing theological and ethical perspectives; it provides an array of approaches to popular culture influenced by the different social locations of the contributors; and those contributors, from two communities of color, speak to, rather than past, each other.” — Miguel A. De La Torre, author of Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins

“In its comparative and dialogical approach, Creating Ourselves provides a model for the kind of scholarly work in which we might engage across the humanities. It also makes an important contribution to the popular culture studies, a field that is rarely in conversation with scholars of religion and theology.” — Farah Jasmine Griffin, author of If You Can’t Be Free, Be a Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday


Availability: In stock
Price: $29.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Anthony B. Pinn is Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University. His many books include Noise and Spirit: The Religious and Spiritual Sensibilities of Rap Music, The Black Church in the Post-Civil Rights Era, and Varieties of African American Religious Experience.

Benjamin Valentin is Professor of Theology and Culture and Director of the Orlando E. Costas Lectureship in Latino(a) Theology at the Andover Newton Theological School. He is the author of Mapping Public Theology: Beyond Culture, Identity, and Difference and the editor of New Horizons in Hispanic/Latino(a) Theology. Pinn and Valentin are the editors of The Ties That Bind: African American and Hispanic American/Latino(a) Theologies in Dialogue.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

Part One. Thinking About Religion and Culture

Cultural Production and New Terrain: Theology, Popular Culture, and the Cartography of Religion / Anthony B. Pinn 13

Benjamín Valentín's Response 34

Tracings: Sketching the Cultural Geographies of Latino and Latina Theology / Benjamín Valentín 38

Anthony B. Pinn's Response 62

Part Two. Constructing Bodies and Representation

Memory of Flesh: Theological Reflections on Word and Flesh / Mayra Rivera 69

Traci C. West's Response 90

Using Women: Racist Representation and Cross-Racial Ethics / Traci C. West 95

Mayra Rivera's Response 114

Part Three. Literature and Religion

This Day in Paradise: The Search for Human Fulfillment in Toni Morrison's Paradise / James H. Evans Jr. 119

Teresa Delgado's Response 133

Freedom is Our Own: Toward a Puerto Rican Emancipation Theology / Teresa Delgado 138

James H. Evans Jr.'s Response 173

Part Four. Music and Religion

The Browning of Theological Thought in Hip-Hop Generation / Alexa Nava 181

Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan's Response 199

The Theo-poetic Theological Ethics of Lauryn Hill and Tupac Shakur / Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan 204

Alex Nava's Response 224

Part Five. Television and Religion

TV "Profits": An Examination of the Electronic Church Phenomenon and Its Impact on Intellectual Activity within African American Religious Practices / Jonathan Walton 231

Joseph De León's Response 249

Telenovelas and Transcendence: Social Dramas as Theological Theater / Joseph De León 253

Jonathan Walton's Response 271

Part Six. Visual Arts and Religion

Theology as Imaginative Construction: An Analysis of The Work of Three Latina Artists / Suzanne E. Hoeferkamp Segovia 277

Sheila F. Winborne's Response 302

The Theological Significance of Normative Preferences in Visual Art Creation and Interpretation / Sheila F. Winborne 306

Suzanne E. Hoerferkamp Segovia's Sresponse 331

Part Seven. Food and Religion

She Put Her Foot in the Pot: Table Fellowship as a Practice of Political Activism / Lynne Westfield 339

Angel F. Méndez Montoya's Response 356

The Making of Mexican Mole and Alimentary Theology in the Making / Angel F. Méndez Montoya 360

Lynne Westfield's Response 384

Bibliography 387

Contributors 405

Index 409
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4566-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4549-7
Publicity material