Saved and Sanctified: The Rise of a Storefront Church in Great Migration Philadelphia

By Deidre Helen Crumbley | Go to book overview

6
RESPONSE

IN KEEPING WITH AFRICAN AMERICAN traditions of worship, this book was written as a response to several calls. The founding saints’ narratives, which form the heart of this work, are a direct response to Cheryl Townsend Gilkes’s call to replace “flat images” of African Americans with three-dimensional representations of their “nuanced humanity,” giving voice to those silenced by oppressive social processes and thereby “writing the culture and its members into existence” (Gilkes 2002: 176). The project also answers Melvin Williams’s call for “anthropological ethnography” that reveals “the beauty and the good that reside in the adaptive life styles of poor black people” which have too often been ignored or misrepresented (Williams 1974: 3). The chapters on social organization, “Family,” and on rituals and symbols, “Becoming Saints,” are responses to Anthea Butler’s call for scholars of African American religious history to assess the organization, beliefs, and practices of Black churches beyond the main independent denominations (Butler 2007: 6). Ira Harrison has called for more anthropological case studies of storefront churches because they provide invaluable insights into a classical concern in anthropology of religion: how legitimate authority is established and reproduced when informal groups routinize charisma and become enduring formal institutions (Harrison 1966: 164).

At the same time, I have been inspired by Faye Harrison’s call to rethink, revision, and rework anthropology by defying disciplinary practices that have relegated ethnography about and by African Americans to “veiled” and peripheral intellectual spaces (Harrison 2008: 15–19, 69). Like her, I experience myself as an anthropologist whose sociocultural location as an African American woman not only marks my positioning in the academy and larger society but also influences how I approach anthropological research. This study responds to the call for intellectual honesty about how the researcher’s vantage point informs ethnography. I have resisted the temptation to “disappear” the ethnographic self for the sake of social-scientific distance and

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Saved and Sanctified: The Rise of a Storefront Church in Great Migration Philadelphia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • 1 - Call 1
  • 2 - City Tales 29
  • 3 - Saints Tales 49
  • 4 - Becoming Saints 107
  • 5 - Family 139
  • 6 - Response 165
  • Notes 175
  • Bibliography 187
  • Index 201
  • The History of African American Religions 212
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