Ecology, Environmentalism, and Black Sacred Art

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from May 13-15, 2024The Yale School of Sacred Music’s third Black Sacred Arts Conference will bring together scholars and artists in New Haven, Connecticut, to explore the connections between Black sacred arts, ecology, and environmental issues.

Keynote speakers will include Tracey Hucks, Victor S. Thomas Professor of African Religious Studies at Harvard Divinity School, Suzanne Young Murray Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and E. Dianne M. Stewart, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Religion and African American Studies at Murray University.

The conference will focus on diverse religious perspectives and diverse geographies of research and practice in the Black Atlantic, considering the connections between expressive culture and themes such as climate change, the biodiversity crisis, human and transhuman relations, extractive capitalism in Africa, and its diaspora, and the connections between ecology and ritual material culture. Our goal is to encourage interdisciplinary conversations about the entanglements between black sacred art, ecology, and environmental issues through sound, sight, and other senses, across religious, geographical, or other social categories across the Black Atlantic and beyond. Proposals for the integration of religion, ecology, and environmentalism, studies from Black Buddhism to Islam, and studies from Black Churches to Santeria are welcome.

View event poster

We invite presentation proposals on topics including, but not limited to, Black Sacred Art and:

  • Changing perspectives on ecology and the natural environment
  • Activate new relationships with the more than human/transhuman world
  • Seeing the more-than-human world as/and new forms of being, doing, and thinking
  • Witnessing perceptions, landscapes and the sounds of perceiving landscapes
  • Defending the role of spirituality, ritual, and sacred practices in the environmental justice movement in historical and contemporary contexts
  • A cosmological perspective on climate change
  • Understand the connections between geological, hemispheric and oceanic epistemologies
  • Embody broad concepts of Blackness and Indigenousness related to ecology/environment/environmentalism
  • Consider Maroon’s Religious Life, Rhythm, and Temporality
  • Soothing gods/sacred powers related to ecology/environment
  • Overcoming ecological grief and coping with unfeasible or impossible conditions
  • Imagine the ecological future
  • Exploring sensory engagement and “ecological attunement”

Accepted guests and performers will receive a $250 honorarium to help defray travel expenses to New Haven. In addition, they will be provided with hotel accommodation and several meals during the conference.


We welcome individual paper abstracts and organized group discussions from senior graduate students, faculty, academics and practitioners working outside the academy. Individual papers and presentations will be allotted 20 minutes each; organized groups may include 3-4 speakers. The abstract should be approximately 300 words in length, accompanied by a 150-word resume or personal narrative. For an organized group, please include the group title, group abstract, and all individual abstracts submitted together as one submission.

We also invite proposals for other forms of interaction that combine artistic and ritual phenomena, such as lecture presentations, sound activations, and listening and viewing sessions. Those interested in pursuing alternative expressions should describe various aspects of the format and recommended length in their abstract. The performer’s summary may contain a URL to a multimedia supplement directly related to the presentation. The meeting will be held live in New Haven.

How to submit an abstract

Abstracts should be submitted to by December 15, 2023. If submitting an organized group proposal, the group organizer or chair should upload a PDF containing the group title and a summary of all group participants. Applicants are required to open a free account with Submittable before uploading their abstract. The following information is requested for individual and group proposals:

  • Name
  • e-mail
  • connect
  • 150-word resume or personal narrative
  • Paper or group title
  • 300-word group (if applicable) and individual essay abstracts

Have questions about the conference or abstract submission process? Send us an email.


  • Abstract deadline: Friday, December 15, 2023
  • Admission notification date: March 15, 2024
  • Schedule announcement and conference registration (for non-speakers) open: March 1, 2024

program committee

  • Justin Brown, Yale University
  • Ryan Dahl, Yale University
  • Rebecca Dirksen, Indiana University
  • Tao Leigh Goffe, Hunter College, City University of New York
  • Clifton Granby, Yale University
  • Ayodeji Ogunneke, University of Virginia
  • Solimar Otero, Indiana University

Hurricane Warrior, Flying Aquitaine, Light of Moroka ©2019 Abigail Hadeed

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