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Theology Professor’s New Book Presents Moral Vision of BLM Movement

Book cover of "Black Dignity: The struggle against domination"

VILLANOVA, PA – “An important dimension of dignity has been forgotten,” suggests Vincent Lloyd, PhD, professor of Theology and Religious Studies and director of the Center for Political Theology in Villanova’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, in his new book Black Dignity: The struggle against domination (Yale University Press, 2022). Looking to the Black Lives Matter movement, Black Dignity aims to re-orient the way readers envision the concept of dignity.

“Too often we think about dignity as a kind of nobility (the dignity of kings, judges, or bishops) or as an attribute of our shared humanity. I argue that the Black Lives Matter movement draws our attention to a different sense of dignity: dignity in motion, performed in struggle against domination,” Dr. Lloyd says.

Drawing on academic conversations in philosophy, political theory, Africana studies and religious studies, Black Dignity presents the distinctive moral vision of the BLM movement, beyond the movement’s rhetoric and hashtags, in terms that engage readers of all backgrounds. “[The book] is meant to invite readers who may be students or non-academics into the sort of careful, thoughtful analysis we do in the academy, without the stilted, pedantic tone that often comes with academic writing,” Dr. Lloyd explains.

One way he’s challenging readers to conduct such thoughtful analysis is by considering the role of Black activists: “Too often these days the names of Black thinkers are invoked as talismans, magically empowering those who invoke them (and marking racial or political credentials). Black Dignity urges us to turn from names to ideas, and to argue with those ideas. Even the greatest Black thinkers and activists get things wrong. Sometimes they disagree with each other, and we should be willing to name that disagreement and think through where we land,” Lloyd shared in a recent interview about the book.

Former director of the Africana Studies program at Villanova, Dr. Lloyd is especially passionate about using the ideas and methods of Africana studies to understand the BLM movement.

Vincent Lloyd, PhD

“Recently, scholarship in Africana Studies has gone back to its roots, closely connected to social movements. My book aims to synthesize these new insights and make them accessible to a broader audience,” he says. “The BLM movement’s moral vision draws on this long tradition of Black political engagement and intellectual production, but it is articulated in a new ways, pushing beyond the framework of multiculturalism that has dominated the cultural politics of race over the last half century.” 

Dr. Lloyd researches issues and trends at the intersections of religion and politics as well as religion and race, and the affect these have on social change. He has authored several books including, In Defense of Charisma (Columbia University Press, 2018), Black Natural Law (Oxford University Press, 2016) and The Problem with Grace: Reconfiguring Political Theology (Stanford University Press, 2011). He is part of the editorial collective of the academic journal Political Theology and serves on the executive committee of the Political Theology Network. Dr. Lloyd earned his doctorate and masters from University of California, Berkley. He received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University.

About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences:  Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenging and changing world. With more than 40 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.