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Chosen People: The Rise of American Black Israelite Religions Hardcover – January 14, 2013

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Chosen People: The Rise of American Black Israelite Religions + Black Jews in Africa and the Americas (The Nathan I. Huggins Lectures)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (January 14, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195301404
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195301403
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 1.2 x 6.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #997,809 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Chosen People is a bold, compelling history of Black 'Israelite' religions among African- descended people in places as far afield as Kansas, Harlem, and Ethiopia. Highlighting Jewish, Christian, and Muslim ideas and practices, the book explores the dynamic, historically specific 'bricolage' that made Black Israelite religions. It is a novel intervention in scholarly debates of cultural change in the African diaspora, a must- read for scholars of the African diaspora, religious studies, and cultural production."--Edda Fields-Black, American Historical Association

"Chosen People is unique in placing Black Israelite religions in the complex context of American history and is the most comprehensive work of scholarship on this topic...No one attempting to understand the rise of Black Israelite religions in America can afford to do without Chosen People." --Jewish Review of Books

"Chosen People offers a fascinating look at Black Israelites, people who resided in the interstices of groups and ideas we commonly separate-Blacks and Jews, religion and politics, history and identity, cultural theory and historical documentation, Christians and Jews. Dorman situates his subjects in an incredibly rich context, illuminating not only those African Americans who believed in the blackness of the ancient Hebrews, but also the many social, political, and cultural forces operating in post-emancipation African American history. It is fascinating reading for anyone interested in American religion, history, or culture."--Cheryl Greenberg, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of History, Trinity College

"Jacob Dorman has written a masterful (even paradigm-shifting) book on Black Judaism, a genuine tour de force. Carefully combining a close reading of primary artifacts/evidence with substantive life-history interviews, critiques/re-readings of various secondary literatures, and even a healthy dash of what I'd call a decidedly ethnographic sensibility, Dorman has crafted a powerful and meticulous portrait of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century Black Jewish leaders who institutionalized versions of Black Judaic subjectivity in the United States that can still boast many adherents all around the country and the world today. Chosen People is an engaging and thoughtful read for students and scholars of Jewish studies, Africana studies, religious studies, and American history."--John L. Jackson, Jr., Richard Perry University Professor of Communication and Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania

"Jacob Dorman has not only established himself as the leading historian on Black Israelites, but has made an immense contribution to our understanding of the African Diaspora, religion and modernity, and the vexing problem of cultural identity. The research is prodigious, the scope impressive, and his telling of how African-descended people embraced and transformed Judaism is truly dynamic. Most importantly, Chosen People reminds us that people are not merely inheritors of tradition but its creators."--Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

"Jacob Dorman extends historical narratives of African American religion beyond 'Black Jews' to the kinship between Black Israelites, Ethiopians, Rastafarians, and Holiness-Pentecostal Christians, with Freemasons, Conjurers and Mystic Scientists forming a bricolage of ideational, rather than hereditary, traditions. This is a fascinating study that shifts models of African American cultural transmission and religious innovation from 'roots' to 'rhizomes,' and from 'syncretism' to 'polyculturalism.'"--Yvonne Chireau, co-editor of Black Zion: African American Religious Encounters with Judaism

"Dorman's book draws an intricate web of connections between Israelites, black Jews, Holiness, Pentecostal, and Anglo-Israelite groups, all with a skilled reading of the meaning of religious symbols." --Religion in American History

About the Author

Jacob S. Dorman is an assistant professor in the Department of History and Department of American Studies at the University of Kansas.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By dominic on September 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A well written and passionately researched piece of history that is as interesting as it is unfamiliar. Black Jews. Kansas being a sort of Mecca. Another reason Blacks were so peripatetic. Who knew?
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