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Judith Casselberry: "A Radical Black Feminist Goes to the Pentecostal Church"

Judith Casselberry delivering a talk entitled A Radical Black Feminist Goes to the Pentecostal Church at the University of New England Center for Global Humanities, Jan. 31, 2022.

Historically, churches have provided autonomous spaces for Black people to cultivate and reproduce community values. As the first Black institution, this “nation within a nation,” has been a site of self- and communal-help and healing. Yet, for Black feminists and LGBTQ folks, conservative gender and sexual politics have made the church a source of pain and exclusion, not healing.

This lecture at the University of New England Center for Global Humanities reevaluates the organizing structures, conceptual approaches, and ritual practices of Black Pentecostal women with an eye toward making the church a more welcoming place for all. Scholar Judith Casselberry presented “A Radical Black Feminist Goes to the Pentecostal Church” on Mon., Jan. 31 Innovation Hall on UNE’s Portland Campus.

An associate professor of Africana Studies at Bowdoin College, Casselberry’s research is guided by her interest in African American religious and cultural studies, with particular emphasis on gender. She is the author of “The Labor of Faith: Gender and Power in Black Apostolic Pentecostalism,” which employs feminist labor theories to examine the spiritual, material, social, and organizational work of women in a New York-based Pentecostal denomination. She is also co-editor of “Spirit on the Move: Black Women and Pentecostalism in Africa and the Diaspora,” and is currently working on a biography of cultural icon Grace Jones, titled "Solving the Mystery of Grace Jones: It’s the Holy Ghost.” Casselberry’s interest in links between lettered and performed scholarship comes from her career as an academic and performer. As a vocalist and guitarist, she currently performs internationally with Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely.