Ras Michael Brown is an Associate Professor in the Department of History. His research and teaching interests engage the long historical development of religions and cultures in the African Diaspora with special emphasis on the dispersal of Bantu people and cultures throughout the Atlantic World. Early African/American communities and their spiritual cultures figure prominently within this larger scope, especially those in South Carolina and Georgia that were ancestral to more recent Gullah-Geechee communities. Dr. Brown’s book African-Atlantic Cultures and the South Carolina Lowcountry (Cambridge University Press, 2012) was honored by the Journal of Africana Religions as the inaugural recipient of the “Albert J. Raboteau Book Prize for the Best Book in Africana Religions” in 2013. Other publications representative of the reach of his work include “Gullah and Ebo: Reconsidering Early Lowcountry African American Communities” in Southern Communities: Identity, Conflict, and Memory in the Nineteenth-Century American South (edited by Steven E. Nash and Bruce E. Stewart, University of Georgia Press, 2019); “The Immersion of Catholic Christianity in Kalunga,” Journal of Africana Religions, 2, 2: 246-255 (2014); “Original Claims and Haunted Forests: American Indians, African Americans, and Southern Spiritual Landscapes in the Writings of William Gilmore Simms,” The Simms Review 20, 1-2: 29-49 (2013); and “Mother Nganga: Women Experts in the Bantu-Atlantic Spiritual Cultures of the Iberian Atlantic World” in Women of the Iberian Atlantic (edited by Sarah E. Owens and Jane E. Mangan, Louisiana State University Press, 2012). Since 2016, Dr. Brown has served on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Africana Religions.
As an educator, Professor Brown has taught dozens of World History classes, as well as many instances of “The Atlantic World,” “African-Atlantic Spirituality,” “Bantu Diasporas,” “America’s Religious Diversity,” “Slavery and the Old South,” “American Environmental History,” “Black American History to 1865,” “History of Africa,” and “African World Studies” with undergraduate students. His training of graduate students has included “Practicum in Teaching College-level History” and “Recent Historiography” courses along with numerous hours of individualized instruction. Further, Professor Brown has served as director, chair, examiner, or reader on over 50 dissertation, thesis, and exams committees for master’s and doctoral students in History, Religion, and Psychology programs at Southern Illinois University and other prestigious institutions.
In addition to academic endeavors, Brown enjoys deep immersion in the cultures of music composition, performance, and production. He welcomes collaborations in both the academic study and lived experience of Africana religions, musics, and cultures.