Alex Nava received his MA and PhD from the University of Chicago in Religious Studies. His first teaching position was at Seattle University before joining the University of Arizona faculty in 1999. Since arriving at the UA, he has created several courses, including 'Love and World Religions,' 'The Question of God,' 'Religion and Culture in the Southwest,' 'Rap, Culture, and God' and 'Religion in Latin America.' He is the author of The Mystical and Prophetic Thought of Simone Weil and Gustavo Gutiérrez: Reflections on the Mystery and Hiddenness of God (SUNY Press), Wonder and Exile in the New World (Penn State University Press) and In Search of Soul: Hip-Hop, Literature and Religion (University of California Press).
This course is a study of popular culture and religion in African-American and Latin@ communities, with a focus on the place of rap music in the cultural identity of these traditions. The class will begin with a study of some major themes in cultural studies concerning identity, class, race, and gender in addition to a study of the role of religion in Black and Latin@ communities. We will consider the approaches and self-understandings of identity and culture in rap music with special attention to the voices of protest, resistance, and spirituality among rap artists.