Dianne M. Stewart
Associate Professor of Religion and African American Studies
Dianne Marie Stewart was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and grew up in Hartford, CT, USA. She obtained her B.A. degree from Colgate University in English and African American Studies, her M. Div. degree from Harvard Divinity School and her Ph.D. degree in systematic theology from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where she studied with well-known scholars such as Delores Williams, the late James Washington and her advisor James Cone. Dr. Stewart is an associate professor of Religion and African American Studies at Emory University. She joined Emory’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 2001 and teaches courses in the graduate and undergraduate programs, in addition to administering the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, an international initiative that aims to diversify the academy by helping students from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups to earn the Ph.D. degree and secure teaching positions at tertiary institutions across the United States and South Africa. Dr. Stewart’s research and teaching interests cover a wide range of topics under the umbrella of Africana religions, namely, theologies and religious practices of the African diaspora with particular emphases upon African heritage religious cultures in the Americas and the Caribbean; African religions, Black, Womanist, and Caribbean theology/religious thought; theory and method in Africana religious studies; and interreligious dialogue among communities in the African diaspora. Dr. Stewart is the author of Three Eyes for the Journey: African Dimensions of the Jamaican Religious Experience (Oxford University Press, 2005), and she is also the 2013 recipient of Emory College of Arts and Sciences’ Distinguished Advising Award.
Dr. Stewart is near completion of a second book-length manuscript, based upon five years of research in Trinidad and Tobago, including one consecutive year of residence. Religious Vocabularies of Africa: Obeah, Orisa and Identity in Trinidad, provides a much needed historical and ethnographic account of African religions in Trinidad. It also moves beyond earlier scholarship in approaching the issue of African “retentions” with deeper analysis of the phenomenological, discursive and wider cultural terrains in which Africa and Africanness are collectively and contentiously deployed in religious meaning-making among Afro-Trinidadians and other African diaspora communities. Beyond her work in Trinidad and Jamaica, Dr. Stewart has studied and lectured in a number of African, Latin American, European, and Caribbean countries, including Nigeria, The Benin Republic, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Bermuda. In 2006-2007, she spent a year and a half conducting archival and field research as a Fulbright Scholar in the Democratic Republic of Congo where she focused on the history of religions in Central Africa during the slave period and prophetic religious movements in Congo today. She aims to translate and disseminate her rich research experience in the DRC through several articles and a published book on Local and Transnational Legacies of African Christianity in West-Central Africa and the Black Atlantic World.
Dr. Stewart’s most recent articles and essays include: “Religious Pluralism and African American Theology” (2014); “Matricentric Foundations of Africana Women’s Religious Practices of Peacebuilding, Sustainability and Social Change” (2013); and “Africana Religious Studies: Toward a Transdisciplinary Agenda in an Emerging Field,” which appeared in the first issue of the Journal of Africana Religions in January 2013. Her essay, “Kumina: A Spiritual Vocabulary of Nationhood in Victorian Jamaica,” will be published in a forthcoming volume, Victorian Jamaica (Timothy Barringer and Wayne Modest eds., Duke University Press, 2016). Among her current projects, Dr. Stewart is the guest editor of the December 2015 issue of Estudos de Religião, one of Brazil’s top scientific journals in the field of religious studies. The December issue is devoted to the theme: “African Religions in the Diaspora.” Dr. Stewart is also co-editor, with Drs. Jacob Olupona and Terrence Johnson, of the new Religious Cultures of African and African Diaspora People series at Duke University Press. Its first title, Cachita’s Streets: The Virgin of Charity, Race and Revolution in Cuba, by Dr. Jalane Schmidt, was released August 2015.
Recent Undergraduate Courses Taught in AAS
- Global Black Feminisms/Womanisms: Epistemology, Spirituality & the Politics of Representation
- Black Christian Thought
- African American Religion: African Religious Cultures in the Americas and the Caribbean
- African American Religion: Black Religions of Protest
- The Black Church in the African American Experience
- Three Eyes for the Journey: African Dimensions of the Jamaican Religious Experience, Oxford University Press, 2005
- “Religious Pluralism and African American Theology,” The Oxford Handbook of African American Theology, edited by Katie Cannon and Anthony Pinn, 331-350. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2014
- “Matricentric Foundations of Africana Women’s Religious Practices of Peacemaking, Sustainability, and Social Change,” Bulletin of Ecumenical Theology Vol. 25 (2013): 61-79
- “Africana Religious Studies: Toward a Transdisciplinary Agenda in an Emerging Field,” co-authored with Tracey E. Hucks in Journal of Africana Religions Vol. 1, no. 1 (January 2013): 28-77
- “Visitation: The Legacy of African-Derived Religions in Jamaica,” Caribbean Cultural Thought: From Plantation to Diaspora, edited by Yanique Hume and Aaron Kamugisha, 509-553. Kingston: Ian Randle Press, 2013 (reprinted from Dianne M. Stewart, Three Eyes for the Journey, chapter four, 139-187)
- “Orisha Traditions in the West,” The Hope of Liberation in World Religions, edited by Miguel A. De La Torre, 239-256. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2008
- “Collecting on Their Investments One Woman at a Time: Economic Partnerships Among Caribbean Immigrant Women in the United States,” International Journal of African Renaissance Studies 2:1 (July 2007): 35-57
- “Dancing Limbo: Black Passages Through the Boundaries of Place, Race, Class, and Religion” in Deeper Shades of Purple: Womanist Approaches in Religion and Society, edited by Stacey Floyd-Thomas, 82-97. New York: NYU Press, 2006
- “Indigenous Wisdom at Work in Jamaica: The Power of Kumina,” Indigenous Peoples’ Wisdom and Power: Affirming Our Knowledge Through Narratives, edited by Ivy Goduka and Julian Kunnie, 127-142. London: Ashgate Publishers, 2006
- “Women in African Caribbean Religious Traditions,” in Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in North America, edited by Rosemary Skinner Kellar and Rosemary Radford Ruether, 116-126. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006
- “African American Religion: History of Study” co-authored with Tracey E. Hucks in Encyclopedia of Religion, Volume 1, 2nd edition, edited by Lindsay Jones, 73-83. Detroit: Macmillan, 2005
- “African-Derived Religions in Jamaica: Polyvalent Repertoires of Culture and Identity in the Black Atlantic,” Contours: A Journal of the African Diaspora 3:2 (Fall 2005): 74-112
- “Authenticity and Authority in the shaping of Trinidad Orisha Identity: Toward an African-Derived Religious Theory,” co-authored with Tracey Hucks in Western Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 27, no. 3 (Fall 2003): 176-185