In this profoundly innovative book, Ashon T. Crawley engages a wide range of critical paradigms from black studies, queer theory, and sound studies to theology, continental philosophy, and performance studies to theorize the ways in which alternative or “otherwise” modes of existence can serve as disruptions against the marginalization of and violence against minoritarian lifeworlds and possibilities for flourishing.
Examining the whooping, shouting, noise-making, and speaking in tongues of Black Pentecostalism—a multi-racial, multi-class, multi-national Christian sect with one strand of its modern genesis in 1906 Los Angeles—Blackpentecostal Breath reveals how these aesthetic practices allow for the emergence of alternative modes of social organization. As Crawley deftly reveals, these choreographic, sonic, and visual practices and the sensual experiences they create are not only important for imagining what Crawley identifies as “otherwise worlds of possibility,” they also yield a general hermeneutics, a methodology for reading culture in an era when such expressions are increasingly under siege.
Blackpentecostal Breath is a work of utter originality anchored by daring synthesis, acrobatic leaps of imagination, and laced throughout with passages of jolting beauty.
coauthor of Love the Sin: Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance
A one-of-a-kind intervention into performance, religious, black and cultural studies.
—Roderick A. Ferguson
Aberrations in Black: Toward a Queer of Color Critique
Crawley's prose is attentive, loving. It's round and sweet. It's generous in associations. Anecdotes and personal emails populate the book...In Blackpentecostal Breath, tales and anecdotes equip us with tools to decode the book;s argument while also allowing us to pause and breathe...Blackpentecostal Breath is a book of its time, but it's decidedly future-oriented. Breathing, after all, is sequential: each breath, however strained, carries the hope of another one, and another one.
—Los Angeles Review of Books
How does one write "otherwise?"... In short, how does one write an academic book that engages in the subversive
repurposing of the academy and the university that author Ashon Crawley, citing Fred Moten and Stephano Harney, attributes to the "critical academic"?... So, how to forge new tools in order not to relinquish the academy to white supremacist neoliberal capitalist heteropatriarchy? In this bold first book, Blackpentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possiblity, Crawley doesn’t pontificate on how one might do such re‐forging; he forges ahead and does it. Like a good Blackpentecostal musician or preacher, he improvises his way into a powerful re‐enactment of the study of religion.