This article considers the way genealogical approaches to religion have not been able to take into account how the production of knowledge, including religious knowledge, affects global politics. Specifically, it is concerned with the production of expert testimony, which is used to provide the evidentiary basis for a new industry of civil and human rights claims and protections. I explore how genealogical approaches to religion offer a way to see that the constructs we understand to be religion were produced and rendered legible through the formation of contemporary constructions of knowledge and power. I demonstrate that—through these approaches—in order for religious protections to be acknowledged in legal domains, they also need to be rendered visible and legible to the law. Ultimately, I argue that the production of these knowledge practices into portable knowledge packages enables courts to assess issues that have resulted from the migration of ethnic and religious groups; but they also tell us a lot about the limits of genealogical approaches in understanding fully the complexities of Black Atlantic religious practices.

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Keywords genealogies of religion, law, obeah, Santería, Yoruba religion
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Journal Transforming Anthropology
Clarke, K. (2017). Beyond Genealogies: Expertise and Religious Knowledge in Legal Cases Involving African Diasporic Publics. Transforming Anthropology, 25(2), 130–155. doi:10.1111/traa.12101