Ras Michael Brown
Dr. Ras Michael Brown holds a joint appointment in History and Africana Studies and teaches courses on World History, the African Diaspora, the Atlantic World, and Religion. He researches the religious and environmental cultures of African-descended people throughout the African-Atlantic Diaspora with particular attention given to the cultures of West-Central Africans and their descendants in the United States South. His book, African-Atlantic Cultures and the South Carolina Lowcountry (Cambridge University Press, 2012), examines perceptions of the natural world in the religious ideas and practices of African-descended communities in the Lowcountry from the colonial period into the twentieth century. African-Atlantic Cultures and the South Carolina Lowcountry has been awarded the 2013 Albert J. Raboteau Book Prize for the Best Book in Africana Religions by the Journal of Africana Religions. Professor Brown's current projects include articles on the diverse kinds of encounters maintained by African-descended people with Catholic and Protestant Christianity, the contested and convergent meanings of the natural environment among enslaved people and enslavers in the South Carolina Lowcountry, and the special--though often overlooked--significance of nature spirits in African-Atlantic religious cultures. Additionally, his new book project explores the relationships between people and nature spirits in expanding the cultivation of "Atlantic" crops in Africa and the Diaspora and in developing ties to the spiritual landscapes of the Americas from the seventeenth century through the nineteenth century.