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    Between Exodus and Egypt: Malcolm X, Islam, and the ‘natural’ religion of the oppressed

    Hartnell, Anna (2008) Between Exodus and Egypt: Malcolm X, Islam, and the ‘natural’ religion of the oppressed. European Journal of American Culture 27 (3), pp. 207-226. ISSN 1466-0407.

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    Malcolm X’s life and career offers a window through which to analyze the interactions between race and religion in the post-slavery experience of African Americans. This essay traces the trajectory of Malcolm’s two religious conversions, and his evolving sense that Christianity is the backbone of white supremacy and western imperialism, where Islam is the natural religion of the oppressed. This journey, I suggest, features the eclipse of the ‘Exodus’ motif – that has been so central to much black religiosity since slavery – to make way for the centralization of the ‘Egypt’ metaphor; thus identifications with Jews are displaced by associations with black and Muslim diasporas. However, exploration of this movement from ‘Exodus’ to ‘Egypt’ illuminates not a smooth transition but rather a complex and ongoing interaction between the two motifs, interactions that question the notion that any singular religious identity offers an ‘authentic’ experience for oppressed peoples. I suggest that Malcolm X’s negotiation between what emerge as the competing modalities of race, religion and nation offer an insight into those forces that shape expressions of ‘black religion’ today.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
    Research Centres and Institutes: Contemporary Literature, Centre for
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2011 11:18
    Last Modified: 09 Aug 2023 12:31


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