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African American Belief Narratives and the African Cultural Tradition

John Roberts
Research in African Literatures
Vol. 40, No. 1, Oral Literature and Identity Formation in Africa and the Diaspora (Spring, 2009), pp. 112-126
Published by: Indiana University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30131190
Page Count: 15
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African American Belief Narratives and the African Cultural Tradition
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Abstract

In earlier folklore research, the term "folk" was applied, first, to peasant groups in culturally homogeneous societies of Europe and, later, to minorities in the pluralistic American society. In this paper, I argue that the study of African American folklore has been particularly disadvantaged by this approach because that folklore is the product of a continuous tradition of creative cultural production that began in Africa. To illustrate how it can shed some light on the meaning and function of a contemporary narrative form, I examine recent urban legends of contamination as the expressive embodiment of traditional beliefs.

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