Stephen C. Finley ’06, ’09
Chair, Department of African and African American Studies
Associate Professor of Religious Studies and African and African American Studies, Louisiana State University
Stephen C. Finley ’06, ’09 is the inaugural chair of the Department of African and
African American Studies at Louisiana State University and associate professor of
Religious Studies and African and African American Studies. He is the former executive director (2018-2021) of the Society for the Study of Black Religion. He is the co-editor (with Margarita Simon Guillory and Hugh R. Page, Jr.) of Esotericism in African American Religious Experience: “There Is a Mystery”... (Brill 2015), which initiated Africana Esoteric Studies, a new area of scholarship with a growing body of work. He is co-editor, with Biko Mandela Gray (Rice PhD) and Lori Latrice Martin, of The Religion of White Rage: White Workers, Religious Fervor, and the Myth of Black Racial Progress (Edinburgh University Press).
His monograph, In and Out of This World: Material and Extraterrestrial Bodies in the Nation of Islam was published by Duke University Press in 2022. He is co-author (with Biko Mandela Gray and Lori Latrice Martin) of Ivory Towers, Regulatory Technologies, and the (Re)Production of Anti-Black Violence in the Academy: Introducing Black Faculty Studies (under advance contract with Johns Hopkins University Press). His The Afro-Theosophysics of Robert T. Browne: Race, Blackness, and Theory of Religion is under advance contract with Oxford University Press.
NOI, in effect, became the extraterrestrials on this earth, and the Mother Wheel will
return to bring an end to this age of domination and suffering.
In and Out of This World: Material and Extraterrestrial Bodies in the Nation of Islam
UFO phenomena are generally understood as universal, occurring all over the worldand across time. The Nation of Islam (NOI) is part of an African American UFO tradition that regards UFOs as specifically relating to black people and their existence inAmerica. The NOI and UFOs, what they call the Mother Wheel or Mother Plane, have to be understood against a history and experience of white racial terror that includes the
social death and brutality of 250 years of American slavery, another century of lynchings, the antiblack violence of the Jim Crow and civil rights eras, and the ongoing systematic public policies that target black people (such as the war on drugs, mass incarceration, inordinate policing and violence), leading to the curtailment of potential and unnatural deaths of black men and women.
Finley will argue that the UFO narratives and black extraterrestrial life in the cosmos allows for a reenvisioning of the meaning of black humanity toward new metaphysics, ontologies, and epistemologies that allow for a fuller sense of being and hubris toward meaningful navigation of this world, against historically structured "black inferiority." The