Dr. James Perkinson
Professor of Ethics and Systematic Theology
Dr. Jim Perkinson is a long-time activist and educator from inner city Detroit, where he has a history of involvement in various community development initiatives and low-income housing projects. He holds a PhD in theology from the University of Chicago, with a secondary focus on history of religions, is the author of White Theology: Outing Supremacy in Modernity and Shamanism, Racism, and Hip-Hop Culture: Essays on White Supremacy and Black Subversion, and has written extensively in both academic and popular journals on questions of race, class and colonialism in connection with religion and urban culture. He is in demand as a speaker on a wide variety of topics related to his interests and a recognized artist on the spoken-word poetry scene in the inner city.
Jim is interested in using a broad array of interdisciplinary tools to investigate the way socio-economic position, racial presupposition, and gender perspective already inform our values and orientation to life long before we begin to grapple with questions of identity, ministry or spirituality. He is particularly concerned to understand the way white supremacy, as an effect of colonial Christian practices, continues to be reproduced in mainstream Western cultures. In addition, he explores how the creative forms of cultural resistance developed by marginalized groups and indigenous peoples can critically challenge Christianity today. These concerns figure in both his academic writing and the performance poetry that he produces as a necessary adjunct to teaching. Becoming at least bi-cultural in communication skills and poly-rhythmic in spiritual practice is fast emerging as a requisite capacity for Christian leadership in a transnational world. And the need for a pedagogy adequate to such a demand is his consuming passion.
SCHOLARLY PUBLICATIONS (Books)
Perkinson, J. W. (2019). Political Spirituality for a Century of Water Wars: The Angel of the Jordan Meets the Trickster of Detroit. New York: Palgrave Macmillan Press.
Perkinson, J. W. (2015). Political Spirituality in an Age of Eco-Apocalypse: Essays in Communication and Struggle Across Species, Cultures, and Religions. New York: Palgrave Macmillan Press.
Perkinson, J. W. (2013). Messianism Against Christology: Resistance Movements, Folk Arts, and Empire. New York: Palgrave Macmillan Press.
Perkinson, J. W. (2005). Shamanism, Racism, and Hip-Hop Culture: Essays on White Supremacy and Black Subversion. New York: Palgrave Macmillan Press.
Perkinson, J. W. (2004). White Theology: Outing Supremacy in Modernity, New York: Palgrave Macmillan Press.
POETRY PUBLICATIONS (Books)
Perkinson, J. W. with Airey, Tom. (2020). A Secret Gift Outside the Door: Poems of Resistance and Wonder (87 page book of poems and reflections), Detroit: Kardia Kaiomenē (also eBook, Kindle)
Perkinson, J. W. (2002). Dreaming Moorish (72 page book of my own poems), Detroit: Weightless Language Press.
Perkinson, J. W. 2017. “ Jesters, Tricksters, Taggers and Haints: Hipping the Church to the Afro-Hop, Pop-‘n-Lock Mock-up Currently Rocking Apocalyptic Detroit,” HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 73(3), a659. https://doi. org/10.4102/hts.v73i3.4659, 1-13.
Perkinson, J. W. 2017. “Protecting Water in the Anthropocene: River Spirits and Political Struggle in Detroit, Standing Rock, and the Bible,” CrossCurrents 66:4, 460-484.
Perkinson, J. W. (2015). “A Theological Aesthetic of the Ugly: Hip-Hop, Race and the City.” CrossCurrents (Mar, 2015), 100-115.
Perkinson, J. W. (2014). “The Ghost in the Global Machine: Categorical Whiteness as ‘Religious’ Violence,” CrossCurrents 64:1 (2014), 59-72.
Perkinson, J. W. (2009). “Tupac Shakur as Ogou Achade: Hip-Hop Anger and Postcolonial Rancor Read From the Other Side,” Culture & Religion: An Interdisciplinary Journal 10 (1).
BOOK CHAPTERS, ARTICLES, REVIEWS
Perkinson, J. W. 2016. “Preaching Jubilee in the Post-Industrial City,” in V. Vellem, P. Sheerattan-Bisnauth, and P. V. Peacock ed. Bible and Theology from the Underside of Empire. Matieland, SA: SunMedia Metro, 137-151.
Perkinson, J. W. (2016). “Spoken Word Art as Prophetic Witness” and “Genesis Ex Annihilo,” contribution to the “Ways of World Making: Practices of Prophecy and Lament,” chapter in L. C. Schneider and S. G. Ray, Jr., ed., Awake to the Moment: An Introduction to Theology (Workgroup on Constructive Theology), Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 119-127.
Perkinson, J. W. (2016). “Post-Bankruptcy Detroit as Apocalyptic Sign of the Times,” In K. Murphy and J. J. Schedtler (Eds.), Apocalypses in Context: Apocalyptic Currents Throughout History. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.
Perkinson, J. W. (2016). “Unsettling Whiteness: Refocusing Christian Theology on Its Own Indigenous Roots,” in S. Heinrichs ed, Wrongs to Rights: How Churches Can Engage The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (special issue of Intotemak), Winnipeg MB: Mennonite Church Canada, 96-99.
Perkinson, J. W. (2016). “Religion and the Class Status Quo,” In J. Vereecke (Ed.), Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbook on Religion: Religion-Just Religion, Greenhaven Press, Macmillan Reference, USA, Farmington, MI: Gale/Cenage Learning, 199-217.