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This week, Khronikos is celebrating the end of another successful semester with two posts by promising undergraduates. Both papers are from Prof. Liam Riordan’s HTY 398: Creation of the Atlantic World and offer a critique of Jon Sensbach’s Rebecca’s Revival: Creating Black Christianity in the Atlantic World. University of Maine undergraduate history majors Silvestre Guzman and Patrick Hanley offer two perspectives on Sensbach’s work.
The dynamics of the multicultural eighteenth-century Atlantic World demanded multiple skills to successfully establish cross-cultural relations among the parties involved. As the Slave Trade grew, slave traders and African Kings also increased their demand for individuals who possessed multiple skills to act as intermediaries also increased to serve as a cultural bridge in the heterogeneous world. Historian David Northrup notes in his work, Africa’s Discovery of Europe 1450-1850, that as early as the mid-1400s, many African Kings and elites began sending their sons to Europe to be educated. The Creolization of these students allowed them to serve as intermediaries of the commercial exchange between Africa, the Americas, and Europe. Other creoles born into bondage in the western hemisphere, such as Rebecca earned their freedom with their intellectual capabilities and spiritual commitment also served as a cultural bridge for European missionaries to reach enslaved Africans for conversion to Christianity. Read More.
The subject of black Christianity in the Atlantic World has many points of origin; one of the most unique stories about this religious conversion was detailed in Rebecca’s Revival: Black Christianity in the Atlantic World. This book by Jon Sensbach follows the life of a slave woman from the West Indies who became free at an early age and devoted the rest of her life to fervent evangelization. While the story of Rebecca is certainly riveting, Sensbach’s assertions about her impact on Black Christianity throughout the whole West Indies and Europe is speculative due to the lack of empirical evidence about Rebecca’s life, causing the author to make broad inferences regarding Rebecca’s St. Thomas mission as the model for evangelization throughout the New World colonies. Read More.
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