Monica R. Miller
Religion and Hip Hop
New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in American StudiesNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in MusicNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books Network June 3, 2013
The relationship between music and religion is a site of increasing interest to scholars within Religious Studies. Monica Miller, Assistant Professor of Religion and Africana Studies at Lehigh University, explores the social processes and human activity related to Hip Hop music and its accompanying cultural expressions. In Religion and Hip Hop (Routledge, 2012) she introduces us to the various methods that have been used to examine Hip Hop culture and the descriptive terrain of previous scholarship. What is possibly the most laudable aspect of Miller’s efforts are her continued and repeated explorations into the purposes, effects, and operations of theory and method in the study of religion. In this regard, she does not perform a theological or religious analysis of music or lyrics as a search for meaning but rather examines the material productions of Hip Hop culture and the manufactured zones of significance within various discourses. Miller looks at the public context of Hip Hop culture and its relationship to larger social pathologies, the religious rhetoric and style of Hip-Hop knowledge productions or books written by Hip Hop artists, and a visual ethnography of the dance culture of Krumping where the body is examined as a site of significance through aesthetics, style, taste, and dispositions. Very often these interrogations challenge the category of religion in new ways and leave us asking what counts as religion and what is left out. Altogether, Miller does a lot in this book, much of which we did not get to discuss in detail. In our conversation we discussed authorial authority, social constructionism, youth religious participation, the Black Church, KRS One, morality, intentionality and habitus, complex subjectivity, postmodernism, classification, and many other interesting things.