Take Back What the Devil Stole: An African American Prophet's Encounters in the Spirit World

“Imagine a woman of color with the ability to periodically slip off her flesh in order to avoid the weight of our Nation’s cultural perceptions and the ongoing assault upon her body. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Onaje Woodbine American University Contact Me

About this first book grant for scholars of color

Take Back What the Devil Stole centers the life of an African American woman (Donna Haskins) who wrestles with structural inequality in the streets of Boston by inhabiting an alternate dimension she refers to as the “spirit realm.” While historians of religion have often dismissed such paranormal phenomena as alternate dimensions, astral flight, and telepathy as insignificant for the study of religion, I argue in the Devil Stole that these phenomena are essential to understanding religion, especially as it is practiced among marginalized women of African descent in the United States. Both ethnographic and theological, this book explores Donna’s encounters with the supernatural and her sense of multireligious belonging as she blends together Catholic, Black Baptist, and Afro-Caribbean traditions. Shedding new light on the lived religion of the dispossessed, this project examines the complexity of Black Christian women’s religious participation within a contemporary urban context of gender and racial oppression.