Original Research - Special Collection: Spirit Rising Tracing Movements of Justice

Jesters, tricksters, taggers and haints: Hipping the church to the Afro-hop, pop-‘n-lock mock-up currently rocking apocalyptic Detroit

James W. Perkinson
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 73, No 3 | a4659 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v73i3.4659 | © 2017 James W. Perkinson | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 May 2017 | Published: 24 November 2017

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James W. Perkinson, Department of Social Ethics and Theology, Ecumenical Theological Seminary, United States and Department of Practical Theology, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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The following essay investigates the animating force of jester-humour and trickster-critique as necessary components of prophetic consciousness and social movement. Climate change devastation coupled with racialised socio-economic predation today faces social movement with a stark demand. The root-work necessary enjoins challenge of human presumption about the meaning of life at the most basic level. The locus from which such a depth-exploration will be elaborated here is postindustrial Detroit, on the part of a poet-activist-educator who will insist that ‘jesterism’ as ‘prophetic animation’ cannot merely be ‘talked about’, but begs performance and embodiment – even in the process of writing and theorising. Indigenous wisdom and folk spirituality will supply historical perspective in asserting laughter as both antidote to trauma and tactic of critique – whether looking at traditional African practices of tricksterism reincarnate in everyday street life in Detroit, medieval Christian celebrations of the Feast of Fools subverting official Church orthodoxies in feudal Europe, or the postmodern insurgence of hip-hop beats and tags in challenging corporate gentrification and church capitulation at the emblematic heart of de-industrialisation.


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