Identifying Roots: Alex Haley and the Anthropology of Scriptures, by Richard W. Newton, Jr.

A volume in the Culture on the Edge book series, edited by Steven Ramey

Available from Equinox Publishing
August 15, 2020.

Identifying Roots presents a cultural history of Alex Haley’s Roots, examining the strategy and tactics Haley employed in developing a family origin story into an acclaimed national history. More than an investigation into Alex Haley’s legacy, Identifying Roots unearths the politics of beginnings and belongings. While we all come from somewhere, this book examines the terms on which our roots can work as a tradition to embrace rather than a past to leave behind. And it investigates why some of the texts we read also seem to read us back.

Identifying Roots invites readers to reimagine the way we tell stories. A provocative study that draws upon Black studies, the history of religions, and anthropology, this book underscores the social drama and dynamics that define our scriptures. Nimbly moving between the stories of Alex Haley, his characters, and the world that received them, Newton reminds us that our roots are stories of consequence.

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Public Lectures

Dr. Newton will sharing about his research in remote programs tailored for classrooms, university settings, and community groups. Topic, format, and honoraria are tailored on an individual basis, making for a fitting and dynamic event. Below are just a few examples of recent events. If you’re interested in hosting a program, please reach out via the contact page.

An interactive talk specifically for classrooms and small community groups interested in issues of race and religion.

A dynamic, multimedia presentation for large public programs at learning institutions.