This annual event is held the last week in January, near the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas Day provides the opportunity for younger theologians to be introduced to Emory and the greater Atlanta community expanding our vision into the future of theological thinking.
Lecture Title: Elevating Flesh: Womanist Ethics, Afro-Caribbean Carnival, and Divine Enjoyment
Speaker: Nicole Symmonds
Lecture Description: There are various religious experiences if religion is defined as a cultural set of beliefs and practices that people gather around. If part of this is the gathering of persons inspired to give focused attention, adoration, and commitment to a subject or object, Trinidad Carnival and its attending practices fit into the category of religious experience. In popular Christian consciousness, Carnival exists on the fringes of what would be considered religious practice because of the festival's seeming erotic charge. Such an understanding threatens to overshadow the essence of what Carnival is, a religious, cultural experience where people of the African-Caribbean diaspora ritually participate in a practice of liberation. Carnival shares the dynamism of Black Catholic religiosity, particularly regarding its ability to enflesh freedom incarnationally, making a way out of no way for African-Caribbean people to embody their spirituality and make sense of their corporeal reality in an unjust world.
This lecture explores how Trinidad Carnival serves as a practice of liberation among Black women in the 21st century who craft practices that challenge the intersecting oppressions of race, class, gender, and sexuality. These practices of liberation clarify the significance of the corporeal body of the Black woman, the unifying effect of music, the healing impact of ecstatic dance, and the connection to God that divine enjoyment of this nature enables.
Speaker Biography: Nicole Symmonds is a doctoral candidate in the Graduate Division of Religion in the Ethics & Society