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Faithful Bodies: Performing Religion and Race in the Puritan Atlantic (Early American Places) Hardcover – July 18, 2014

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Editorial Reviews


"This is a fascinating and important new perspective on the body of Christ in early America. With meticulous research and illuminating insight, Kopelson reveals the chain of associations that bound religious communities and colonial societies to an emerging Protestant ethos committed to defining and disciplining corporeal life. Finally, we have a satisfying account of the Puritan attitude to race and sex."-Vincent Brown,Charles Warren Professor of History, Harvard University

"Offers a new way to understand religion, politics, and identity in the English Atlantic World. . . . This is an ambitious undertaking, and Kopelson has done it justice. Faithful Bodies really does it all, with a provocative argument, careful archival research, creative historiographical connections, and evocative, accessible writing."-Ann M. Little,Colorado State University

About the Author

Heather Miyano Kopelson is Assistant Professor of History and Affiliated Faculty in Gender and Race Studies at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

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Product Details

  • Series: Early American Places
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: NYU Press (July 18, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1479805009
  • ISBN-13: 978-1479805006
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #759,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By B. Wolinsky on January 29, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Kopelson, a professor at the University of Alabama, examines an issue of history that is often overlooked. She compares religious practices in three different American colonies, and how they shaped views on race and social class. Before I go further, I want to refer to the young adult classic “The Witch of Blackbird Pond.” Though a secondary source and a work of fiction, it illustrates a famous difference in colonial life; the carefree attitude of the West Indies versus the harsh practice of New England. It also illustrates the Puritans’ abuse of the Quakers. Anyone who has studied US history of the 17th century will probably ask “why were the Puritans so afraid of the Quakers, when the Quakers were pacifists and unlikely to be a physical threat?

For starters, look at the portrayal of the relationship between Natives and the settlers, with regard to Christianity. The native tribes were encouraged to convert, often by force, while at the same time there was war. If the Protestant Anglo settlers, many of them Puritans, held the natives in low regard, why would they care if they became Christian? One possibility is that it was a way to pacify them and reduce their threat to the settlers, who encroached on the tribes’ lands. According to the author, the punishment for native-on-settler offenses were greater than if it were the other way around, so we know the relationship was unequal. So when the natives were pushed to convert, maybe it was a way to control them and keep them from gaining power.
Kopelson also discusses the way African slaves in Bermuda practiced Christianity and the way the white viewed it. There was no equivalent of King Philips War on the island, and less fear of slave rebellions in the 1700’s. This led to less paranoia about how the slaves (or freemen) worshipped.
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Faithful Bodies: Performing Religion and Race in the Puritan Atlantic (Early American Places)
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