Accepted Paper:

Towards a new African American religion ? The Akan movement in the United States  
Pauline Guedj (LESC (CNRS), Universite Paris X, Nanterre)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will study the spread of the Akan religion from Ghana to the United States. It suggests that this practice has grown into a new African-American religion that has become attractive to many believers in search for their 'African' roots.

Paper long abstract:

In 1965, Gus Dinizulu, an African American percussionist traveled to West africa with his dance company.In Ghana, he visited the Akonedi Shrine, a famous place of worship in the country, where he was introduced to the religion practiced in the shrine by its chief priestess, Nana Oparebea. Oparebea also performed for Dinizulu a divination during which she gave her host a new "African" name and identified who, she believed, were his enslaved Akan ancestors. Back to America, Dinizulu opened the first African American Akan shrine house and began to look for other worshippers, who, like him, would trace their ancestries to the Akan population of West Africa.

Today, in the U.S., the Akan religion is practiced by many African Americans spread all over the East Coast. Its existence lies on a serie of transnational networks linking Ghana to the New world.

While studying the connections and exchanges between the Akonedi Shrine and its American branches, this paper suggests that the Akan religion has grown into a new African American religion that practitioners use in order to search for their African roots. Nowadays, in the U.S., the Akan religion has then become a crucial practice within the African American religious field and deserves to be studied alongside santeria or the orisha religion.

Panel W075
The internationalisation of African-American religions