“Wherefore She Made Suit”: African Women’s Religious and Spiritual Determinism in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century England
Keywordsearly modern England
birth of race
Religions. Mythology. Rationalism
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AbstractHistorical evidence of early modern English religious communities demonstrate that culturally negative perceptions of skin color and ethnicity contributed to theological notions of black inferiority which supported societal hierarchies based on racial and gender discrimination. This essay analyzes three accounts of a group typically ignored by religious scholars on early modern England: sixteenth and seventeenth century African women. Despite living in a period that arguably witnessed the ideological birth and development of the racial construct in tandem with British colonialist and imperialist expansionism, these women defiantly crafted their own brand of spiritual determinism to wield personal agency in the face of racist theological discourse, ecclesiastical institutions, and legal authorities.