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The JCS Editors are delighted to announce a call for papers for a Special Issue devoted to Contemplation in Africana Traditions with guest editors Oludamini Ogunnaike (University of Virginia), Georgette Mulunda Ledgister (Harvard Divinity School), and Funlayo E. Wood (Harvard University).

The African continent and diaspora have a rich heritage and strong contemporary practice of contemplative traditions, many of which have historically been excluded from understandings of “contemplation,” as a result of this category’s European Christian origins and more recent Euro-American Buddhist influence. 

Africana traditions offer an opportunity to broaden the concept of contemplation, which often centers silence and stillness, by considering how practitioners create spaces that may be, at once, alive with movement and sound and deeply contemplative. Africana traditions of contemplation often emphasize the suspension of time in which the divine and the human intersect in ritual that is paradoxically and necessarily both timeless and time-bound; ritual that unites and transcends past, present, and future. 

Africana practices like divination, prayer circles, spirit possession, and communal mourning, to name a few, tap into the core aims of contemplation − direct communion with the sacred and/or being − while, at the same time, remaining profoundly practical, providing pathways for better living. 

This issue will highlight the various forms and functions of contemplation within Africana traditions and invites papers on topics including but not limited to:

  • Prayer and meditation within Africana traditions
  • Movement, song, and art as contemplative practices
  • Trance, spirit possession and the body in Africana contemplative ritual
  • Wake, watches, and wailing as practices of contemplative mourning in Africana and Black religious experience
  • The process and the practice of ritual contemplation in the Africana lifeworld 
  • Ecologies of contemplation: the role of nature, the human and the divine in ritual contemplation 
  • Coding Contemplation: Africana religions in digital spaces

Papers must be previously unpublished, not under consideration elsewhere, and adhere to the specifications outlined on the Submissions page. If you are interested in submitting an article, please fill-out the Intent to Submit form to signify your intention and the guest editors will keep you updated about the issue’s progress. All final publication decisions are at the discretion of the guest editors and executive editor of the Journal of Contemplative Studies.