I am writing to share with you all the news that my first book, Fugitive Saints: Catholicism and the Politics of Slavery, will be released by Fortress Press (which has been amazing) at the beginning of next month. This book asks the following:

How should the Catholic church remember the sins of its saints? This question proves particularly urgent in the case of those saints who were canonized due to their relation to black slavery. Today, many of their racial virtues seem like racial vices. In this way, the church celebrates Peter Claver, a seventeenth-century Spanish missionary to Colombia, as “the saint of the slave trade,” and extols Martín de Porres as the patron saint of mixed race people. But in truth, their sainthoods have upheld anti-blackness much more than they have undermined it. Habituated by anti-blackness, the church has struggled to perceive racial holiness accurately. In the ongoing cause to canonize Pierre Toussaint, a Haitian-born former slave, the church continues to enact these bad racial habits. This book proposes black fugitivity, as both a historical practice and an interpretive principle, to be a strategy by which the church can build new hagiographical habits. Rather than searching inside itself for racial heroes, the church should learn to celebrate those black fugitives who sought refuge outside of it.

Here’s the link to buy it directly from Fortress, where you can also check out the three incredibly generous endorsements provided by the mega-amazing scholars M. Shawn Copeland, James F. Keenan, SJ, and Vincent Lloyd. I know there is never enough time to read all the things we want to, but I would be super honored if any of you were able read this book and share your feedback (both negative and positive) with me.

2 thoughts

  1. Looks fantastic. I find it impossible to find a black saint for my black CCD students. Martin de Porres was persecuted not for his faith but because he was black – and by his fellow Catholics. What does his canonization mean? The challenges and persecution he faced came from his own church. He was a victim of his own church. I look forward to your book.

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