Futile Plans: Map, Wandering, and the Study of Religion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sometimes, plans fail. I had planned to write about how Dionne Brand’s A Map to the Door of No Return: Notes to Belonging spoke to the study of religion in various ways. But after encountering Map’s speaker on the ocean with Yemaya, my plans failed, and opened a different way of thinking about religion and its study. In this regard, this essay speaks to religion not as a category of human experience, but instead as a kind of movement that sets our categories in default. Turning to scholars of religion like Charles Long and Black studies scholars like Sarah Jane Cervenak, I eventually suggest that Map offers us wandering as a method for studying reli-gion; instead of coming with our received categories, I suggest, we must instead adopt wandering as a method; instead of starting with traditions, beliefs, theologies and histories, we should instead insist on life—and allow that insistence to guide our study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-78
Number of pages13
StatePublished - 2023


  • A Map to the Door of No Return
  • Black Study
  • Religion
  • Wandering
  • Yemaya

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies


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