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New Book Examines How Studying Hip Hop Can Explain the Changing Face of Religion

In her new book, Dr. Monica R. Miller embarks on a fresh evaluation of religion in popular culture. Taking the subject’s research and analysis deeper than ever before – Miller discovers how the use of religion in Hip Hop culture impacts on the social and cultural issues of today’s youth.


Portland, OR -- (SBWIRE) -- 07/17/2012 -- In short, Religion and Hip Hop is like no other book on the market. Penned by Dr. Monica R. Miller, a tattoo and piercing-covered faculty at Lewis & Clark College, the book aims to make intellectual sense of the uses of religion in hip hop culture.

“I want to showcase what Hip Hop can teach us about the messy world of religion and, more importantly, why it matters in unlocking the code on the changing face of religion in culture today” explains Miller, who is publishing the book following a long period of diligent research.

She continues, “America has become obsessed with religion, with many feeling that ‘belief’ is on a drastic decline. My research has shown that this type of concern is based on a faulty understanding of religion; one that is rooted in a manufactured crisis.”

Religion and Hip Hop is one of the only texts in the field of religious studies to leap beyond the confines of just exploring ‘rap music’. With an expansive focus on films, books written by rap artists, public events and even empirical data, the text is rich in theoretical and methodological diversity.

Critics are praising Miller for her duel-approach analysis as both a scholar of religion and a consumer of popular culture. Placing special focus on the effects of Hip Hop culture on waning church memberships, as well as the apparent ‘crisis’ on the young populations rising postmodern spirituality, Religion and Hip Hop reveals why it’s vital to pay attention to how religion is used in culture today.

Real-world examples come in abundance. For example, Miller revisits public scandals including the Imus controversy, books by rappers that look like Bibles and published data sets suggesting a declining significance of faith among young people.

As Miller explains, her own doorstep provided a myriad of exciting research opportunities.

Portland, Oregon, where I live and work, is an interesting case in particular. The Pacific Northwest in general has been dubbed as one of the least religious regions in the United States, thus, leading experts to call it the ‘None Zone.’ However, my new research shows that religion is being remade in new ways seemingly unrecognizable to both the expert and general public alike. The same goes for why Hip Hop, a culture seen as criminal and deviant, is no stranger to reshaping and remaking religion,” she says.

While Hip Hop culture forms the heart of the book, experts and scholars are praising it as a vital resource for the general study of the relationship between youth and religion.

"Miller's well researched and thoughtfully written book is a vital contribution to scholarship, one that holds great promise for helping readers better understand both the nature and meaning of religion and the deep significance of hip hop. Anyone interested in the intersection(s) of religion and hip hop should read this book. I highly recommend it” says Anthony B. Pinn of Rice University.

“I feel that this subject is more important now than ever before. My ultimate goal was to look further than the usual question of ‘what is religious about Hip Hop culture’ and instead examine what uses of religious rhetoric in Hip Hop accomplish for competing social and cultural interests,” Miller concludes.

Religion and Hip Hop is published by Routledge and available from Amazon.com at the following link:


ISBN: 0415628571

For more information, please visit the book’s official website: http://www.religionandhiphop.com

About the Author
Monica R. Miller is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Lewis & Clark College, Department of Religious Studies. She is co-chair of a new American Academy of Religion (AAR) group entitled 'Critical Approaches to the Study of Hip Hop and Religion' and Senior Research Fellow with the Institute for Humanist Studies (IHS), Washington, DC.?