"African Americans, Quakers, and the Racial Limits of Religious Freedom"

Tuesday, March 20, 2018
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM (ET)
CHS CHS 104 Chase Auditorium
Event Type
Distinguished Visitors Program

Distinguished Visitor Tisa Wenger, associate professor of American religious history, Yale Divinity School

The cultural power of religious freedom in the United States has encouraged its invocation by a dizzying array of people to defend every imaginable practice and tradition. Quakers have been among the most persistent and consistent advocates for this ideal, both for themselves and for others. Tisa Wenger suggests, however, that the dominant articulations of religious freedom in American life have more often than not supported white and Christian privilege. Her talk will explore the ironies of religious freedom in the early decades of the twentieth century, juxtaposing Quaker idealism with the limited utility of this freedom for African Americans as they struggled against the legalized segregation of Jim Crow.

Tisa Wenger was educated at Eastern Mennonite University, Claremont Graduate University, and Princeton University. She has taught at Southern Methodist University, Princeton University, Arizona State University, and Yale Divinity School. Her first book, "We Have a Religion: The 1920s Pueblo Indian Dance Controversy and American Religious Freedom" (University of North Carolina, 2009), was enthusiastically reviewed in over a dozen scholarly journals, and was the subject of an author-meets-critics roundtable at the American Academy of Religion. Her most recent book, "Religious Freedom: The Contested History of an American Ideal" (University of North Carolina, 2017), is a sweeping account of the ways the American concept of religious freedom formed in relation to the politics of race and empire. Professor Wenger has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Lilly Foundation.

Tea at 4:15 PM 

Sponsored by Quaker Studies in conjunction with the Distinguished Visitors Program

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