Kai Parker

Assistant Professor of African American Religious History

University of Virginia

A historian of African American religion, Kai Parker examines how messianic and apocalyptic strains of black faith illuminate the tensions between conceptions of redemption and freedom in African American history. Professor Parker studies the religious history of urban inequality, gospel music, internationalist and diasporic missiology, Ethiopianism, the intersection of biblical prophetic theology and modern social science in black religious thought, reparations, the influence of rural and apocalyptic worldviews on the formation of urban religious ways of being, and the theological valences of criminal justice reform and prison abolitionism. His research combines the archival methods of history with conceptual insights drawn from theology as well as black studies’ engagements with phenomenology. Parker is currently working on a project, “Faith without Hope: Black Protestants, Chicago, and the Critique of Progress, 1914-1968,” which analyzes the ways in which black Protestants in Chicago expressed faith in spiritual redemption through their theological engagements with municipal and global antiblackness.

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