From Our Lady of Africa to Our Lady of Ferguson: Black Madonnas and the “Ecology of Images”


Sandra Zimdars-Swartz (University of Kansas, emerita)

Through two centuries, on her way to Algiers, where she resides in the basilica that bears her name, the statue Our Lady of Africa was cast in silver, painted, etched, cast in bronze, and eventually categorized as a “Black Madonna.” Using Our Lady of Africa and other Black Madonnas, I will explore David Morgan’s “ecology of images,” the complex web of materials, technologies, and relationships that endows images with a power to evoke transformative experiences, and the usefulness of this method for folklorists in assessing the devotional objects of vernacular religion.

Part of 24-01 Contested Traditions, Alternative Realms, Transformational Experiences, Tuesday, October 19, 2:15 pm–3:45 pm