Africana religions represent an irreplaceable component of humanity’s religious heritage, playing an essential role in the development of ancient, medieval, and modern civilizations and cultures. Before the Journal of Africana Religions began publication in 2013, no active, peer-reviewed scholarly journal existed to study the global reach of these traditions. The journal created a venue where scholars could explore the links and ruptures among Black religionists in Africa and the African Diaspora, providing a platform for the transnational study of religion among over a billion people.
Why “Africana”? Since the 1960s, the word “Africana” has served as a rubric to signal a scholarly purview that rejects an entrenched tendency to ignore continental Africa when studying African-descended peoples and cultures. More recently, scholars in the humanistic disciplines have absorbed the significance of transnational methods of study; the proliferation of scholarship on religion within the context of the “Atlantic world” exemplifies this trend. These two developments have profoundly shaped the very nature of studying Africana religions so that now the Africana purview (wedding intellectual attention toward continental Africa to the study of the African Diaspora) and transnational methods (mapping the agencies and identities beyond the boundaries of nation-states and discrete regions) have become normative standards for scholarly excellence.
This journal creates an institutional means for scholars in various academic departments and programs to cross disciplinary divides, sustain fruitful dialogue, and keep abreast of developments across the larger area of Africana religions. It is the first to connect the vast and growing body of researchers who study the religions of Africana peoples. In so doing, the Journal of Africana Religions has sought to fundamentally transform the study of religions in Africa and the African Diaspora.