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Ashon Crawley Ashon Crawley
Assistant Professor

Ph.D., English
Duke University

INTN 4017

PentecostalI earned my doctoral degree from Duke University in the English Department with a certificate in African and African American Studies. Before Duke, I attended the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, earning a Master of Theological Studies degree with a concentration in feminist thought and queer theology. My research and teaching experiences are in the areas of Black Studies, Performance Theory and Sound Studies, Philosophy and Theology, Black Feminist and Queer theories. I am working on my first book project, titled Blackpentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility – advanced contracted with Fordham University Press – investigates the relationship of aesthetic productions to modes of collective intellectual practice.

This work contributes to interdisciplinary scholarship by engaging queer theory, sound studies, literary theory, theological studies, continental philosophy and visual studies. In linking these fields, I investigate the question: how does social life emerge – in thought, sound, and sexuality – particularly for marginalized peoples? The immediate objects of study Blackpentecostal Breath engages are the aesthetic practices found in Blackpentecostalism, a multiracial, multi-class, multi-national Christian sect that has one strand of its genesis in 1906, Los Angeles, California. I argue that the aesthetic practices of Blackpentecostalism constitute a performative critique of normative theology and philosophy that precede the twentieth-century moment. Indeed, the history of these performances is an atheological-aphilosophical project, produced against the grain of liberal logics of subjectivity. In contradistinction to the desire for subjectivity, Blackpentecostal Breath theorizes the extra-subjective mode of being together that is the condition of emergence for new worlds. Blackpentecostalism is a social, musical, intellectual form of life that perpetually revises and refreshes itself. The religious practices I analyze produce a range of common sensual experiences: of “shouting” as dance; “testimony” and “tarry service” as song and praise noise; “whooping” (ecstatic, eclipsed breath) that occurs in praying and preaching; as well as, finally, speaking in tongues. These practices of Blackpentecostalism not only trouble the assumptive logics of gender but also unmoor the matters of sex/uality. I ultimately argue that these choreographic, sonic and visual aesthetic practices and sensual experiences are not only important objects of study for those interested in alternative modes of social organization, but they also yield a general hermeneutics, a methodology for reading culture.

I have published work in Current MusicologySouls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and SocietyThe Journal of Theology and SexualityBlack Theology: An International Journal and in Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies. Most recently, I have published literary essays with The New InquiryThe Normal SchoolInterfictions and Avidly

Sample Publications

“Breathing Flesh and the Sound of BlackPentecostalism.” Journal of Theology and Sexuality (2014).

“Can You Be BLACK and Work Here?” Black Gender and Sexuality: A Reader ed. McGlotten, Shaka and Davis, Dana Ain. Palgrave MacMillan (2013).
“Blackqueer Aesthesis: Sexuality and the Rumor and Gossip of Black Gospel Sound.” Race and Displacement ed. Marouan, Maha and Simmons, Merinda. The University of Alabama Press (2013).

“Harriet Jacobs Gets a Hearing.” Current Musicology, (2013).

Pentecostal Song, Sound, and Authentic Voices.” Sounding Out: The Sound Studies Blog, (July 25, 2011).

Feel the Noise: Sound, Music & Technology.” Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC), (November 6, 2010): http://bit.ly/9x7yi9

“Can you be BLACK and work here? Social Justice Activist Organizing and BLACK Aurality.” Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society 11:2 (2009), 186-201.

“Let's Get It On! Performance Theory and Black Pentecostalism.” Black Theology: An International Journal vol 6, no. 3 (2008): 308-29.

“Circum-Religious Performance: Queer(Ed) Black Bodies and the Black Church.”Journal of Theology and Sexuality 14, no. 2 (2008): 171-92.


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