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Cover of Azusa Reimagined by Keri Day
Azusa Reimagined
A Radical Vision of Religious and Democratic Belonging
Keri Day


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June 2022
232 pages.
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Hardcover ISBN: 9781503615236
Paperback ISBN: 9781503631625
Ebook ISBN: 9781503631632

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Named a 2022 Important Theology Books of the Year Award, sponsored by The Englewood Review of Books.

In Azusa Reimagined, Keri Day explores how the Azusa Street Revival of 1906, out of which U.S. Pentecostalism emerged, directly critiqued America's distorted capitalist values and practices at the start of the twentieth century. Employing historical research, theological analysis, and critical theory, Day demonstrates that Azusa's religious rituals and traditions rejected the racial norms and profit-driven practices that many white Christian communities gladly embraced.

Through its sermons and social practices, the Azusa community critiqued racialized conceptions of citizenship that guided early capitalist endeavors such as world fairs and expositions. Azusa also envisioned deeper democratic practices of human belonging and care than the white nationalist loyalties early U.S. capitalism encouraged. In this lucid work, Day makes Azusa's challenge to this warped economic ecology visible, showing how Azusa not only offered a radical critique of racial capitalism but also offers a way for contemporary religious communities to cultivate democratic practices of belonging against the backdrop of late capitalism's deep racial divisions and material inequalities.

About the author

Keri Day is Associate Professor of Constructive Theology and African American Religion at Princeton Theological Seminary. She is the author of Unfinished Business: Black Women, the Church and the Struggle to Thrive in America (2012), Religious Resistance to Neoliberalism: Womanist and Black Feminist Perspectives (2015), and Notes of a Native Daughter: Testifying in Theological Education (2021).

"Day's account of the democratic possibilities of life unleashed by the feminist and womanist founding of black Pentecostalism is groundbreaking. This book will redirect moral philosophy and political theology for generations."

—Willie James Jennings, Yale University

"Azusa Reimagined offers a pathway out of racial capitalism and a radical religious means to advance democracy, all based on Day's analysis of early Pentecostalism. This is a stunning, theoretically groundbreaking book."

—David D. Daniels III, McCormick Theological Seminary

"Cogent and revelatory in its analysis, this is the book for which we have been waiting! Day seamlessly ties the origins of black Pentecostalism to a progressive politics that challenged America's status quo."

—Marla Frederick, Emory University

"In this lucid work, Day makes Azusa's challenge to this warped economic ecology visible, showing how Azusa not only offered a radical critique of racial capitalism but also offers a way for contemporary religious communities to cultivate democratic practices of belonging against the backdrop of late capitalism's deep racial divisions and material inequalities."

—C. Christopher Smith, Englewood Review of Books

"Day is nuanced and thoughtful enough to acknowledge variegated legacies of the Azusa Revival; she considers both the potentials and limitations of Azusa even while lauding the former. Day elegantly weaves together diverse historical, philosophical, and theological literatures to vividly depict some crucial moments of the early Pentecostal movement and to reveal its egalitarian and inclusive nature."

—Keunwoo Kwon, Reading Religion

"If despair increasingly marks our individual lives, collectively we struggle to face the fraying of democracy as we reckon with the systemic sins at its foundation. In Azusa Reimagined, Keri Day shows how the founding of the Pentecostal movement provides a critique that can function as a corrective to the present moment."

—Jason Micheli, The Christian Century

"Azusa Reimagined is a creative and well-told story about the response of those from America's underside who found social, religious, and political meaning in an unorthodox expression of early-twentieth-century American Christianity. Day's meticulous use of theory, history, and theology makes the text uniquely convincing and captivating."

—Dara Coleby Delgado, American Religion

"Day's thoughtful work adds to that of a small cadre of scholars of color, Pentecostal and otherwise, who have attempted to resurrect and highlight the Azusa Street Revival's significance within American religious history. She goes further, however, placing the 1906 event within the context of the historical interrelationship between White evangelical Christianity, American capitalism, and racism."

—Estrelda Y. Alexander, The Christian Century

"In Azusa Reimagined, Keri Day offers a vital consideration of the intersectionality of race and gender with theological and economic concerns. However, what truly sets this work apart is the centering of the 1906 Azusa Revival, an event critical to the growth of Pentecostalism in the United States, as a revolutionary example of Black religion, and an authentic explication of Pentecost, both interpretive postures rarely taken by white or Black religious scholars."

—David Latimore, Homiletic

"Azusa Reimagined makes an important contribution to African American religious studies from the perspective of political theology and philosophy. With the publication of this text, Day establishes her own prominence among the scholars of African American Pentecostalism whose work she engages critically in her interpretation of Azusa."

—Cheryl J. Sanders, Pneuma