Rachel E. Harding

Ph.D. | Associate Professor | Chair
Department of Ethnic Studies

Office Location:
Plaza 102 

Office Hours:
By appointment. Email: Rachel.Harding@ucdenver.edu

Expertise Areas:
Religious Studies, Literature, and Cultural History of the Afro-Atlantic Diaspora

Rachel Elizabeth Harding, is a native of Georgia, a writer, historian and poet. Rachel is a specialist in religions of the Afro-Atlantic diaspora and studies the relationship between religion, creativity and social justice activism in cross-cultural perspective. A Cave Canem Fellow, she holds an MFA in creative writing from Brown University and a PhD in history from the University of Colorado Boulder. Dr. Harding is author of A Refuge in Thunder: Candomblé and Alternative Spaces of Blackness (Indiana University Press, 2000) as well as numerous poems and essays. Rachel’s second book, Remnants: A Memoir of Spirit, Activism and Mothering (Duke University Press, 2015), combines her own writings with those of her mother, Rosemarie Freeney Harding, on the role of compassion and spirituality in African American social justice organizing.

Dr. Harding co-directs the Veterans of Hope Project, a community initiative on religion, creativity and inclusive democracy.

Rachel Harding is Associate Professor of Indigenous Spiritual Traditions in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado Denver.

B.A., Religious Studies, Brown University
M.F.A., English/Creative Writing, Brown University
Ph.D., History, University of Colorado Boulder


Remnants: A Memoir of Spirit, Activism and Mothering, with Rosemarie Freeney Harding, Durham: Duke University Press, 2015 

A Refuge in Thunder: Candomblé and Alternative Spaces of Blackness, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000 


“Quantum Exchange: The Diasporic Art of Daniel Minter,” in Rethinking Marxism: A Journal of Economics, Culture and Society,”  vol 33, no 1, 2021 

“The Lithic Imagination and the Tertia: Resources of Art and Literature for the Study of Afro-Atlantic Religion,” in With This Root About my Person: Charles H. Long and New Directions in the Study of Religion, edited by David Carrasco and Jennifer Reid, Albuquerque, NM, University of New Mexico Press, 2020 

“Afro-Brazilian Religion, Resistance and Environmental Ethics: A Perspective from Candomblé,” with Valdina Oliveira Pinto, in Ecowomanism: Religion and Ecology, editor, Melanie Harris. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill Press, 2017 

“Você tem direito à árvore da vida: spirituals afro-americanas e religiões da diáspora,” in Diáspora Africana nas Américas, editors Isabel Reis and. Solange Pereira da Rocha.  Minas Gerais, Brazil: Fino Traço Editora (Coleção Uniafro/MEC), 2016  

"O acolhimento, a cura e os vultos: reflexões sobre a religião e a militancia negra-norte americana do sul dos estados unidos," in Revista Pontos da Interragoção, vol 5, no 2, 2016 

"The Lithic Imagination and the Tertia: The Longian Paradigm and Art in the Study of Afro-Atlantic Religion," in Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society, vol 16, nos 1-2, 2014 

"Authority, History and Everyday Mysticism in the Poetry of Lucille Clifton: A Womanist View," in Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism, vol 12, no 1, 2014 

"Water Trouble: The Road, The Boat and the Third Thing: Reflections on Daniel Minter’s Exhibit at Soren Christensen Gallery, New Orleans, May 2014." Statement commissioned by artist for his website. http://www.danielminter.com/Welcome.html 

"On Poetry and Mothering: Thoughts on African American Women’s Mysticism," ecclesio.com, February 2013. http://www.ecclesio.com/2013/02/on-poetry-and-mothering-thoughts-on-african-american-women%E2%80%99s-mysticism-rachel-harding/ 

"Entrevista com Poeta-Militante Sonia Sanchez" in Saberes em Perspectiva: Gênero e diversidade cultural, vol 2, no 2, jan/abr 2012 

"There Was a Tree in Starksville" with Rosemarie Freeney Harding, in Sojourners: Faith in Action for Social Justice, February, 2012 

"Atlanta’s Mennonite House" with Rosemarie Freeney Harding, in Widening the Circle: Anabaptist Experiments in Discipleship, editor Joanna Shenk, Herald Press, 2011 

"Remnants: Mothering, Spirituality and African American Activism" in Faith, Feminism and Scholarship: The Next Generation, eds Kate Ott and Melanie Harris, Palgrave/McMillan, 2011 

"You Got a Right to the Tree of Life: African American Spirituals and Religions of the Diaspora," in CrossCurrents, Vol 57, no 2, Summer 2007 

"É a Senzala: Slavery, Women and Embodied Knowledge in Afro-Brazilian Candomblé," in Women and Religion in the African Diaspora, eds. Barbara Savage and R. Marie Griffith, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006 

"Hospitality, Haints and Healing: A Southern African American Meaning of Religion," with Rosemarie Freeney Harding, in Deeper Shades of Purple: Womanism in Religion and Society, ed. Stacey M. Floyd-Thomas, New York: NYU Press, 2006 

"Singing to Freedom," interview with Bernice Johnson Reagon, conducted with Vincent Harding, in Sojourners, August, 2004: 32-35 

"Afro-Brazilian Religions," in The Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd edition, ed. Lindsey Jones, Farmington Hills, MI: Thompson Gale, 2004 

"Radical Hospitality: How Kitchen Table Lessons in Welcome and Respect Helped Sustain the Black Freedom Movement," with Rosemarie Freeney Harding in Sojourners Magazine, July/August 2003 

 "'What Part of the River You’re In': African American Women in Devotion to Oshun" in Osun Across the Waters: A Yoruba Goddess in Africa and the Americas, eds. Joseph Murphy and Mei Mei Sanford, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001 

"Biography, Democracy and Spirit: An Interview with Vincent G. Harding" in Callaloo, vol 20, no 3, 1998 


“Especial 20 de Novembro: Celebração da Escrita de Ialorixás/ November 20th Special: In Celebration of the Writings of Iyalorixás,” by Cleidiana Ramos, translation by Rachel Harding, in  Flor de Dendê, November 20, 2019, http://flordedende.com.br/especial-20-de-novembro-celebracao-da-escrita-de-ialorixas/?fbclid=IwAR2x70qsCiFaFiSHhM2G07wMslay1ybMIRXizehe5ZjRkuawHunl88LhAFk

Reflexões: Escritas de Mãe Valnizia Bianch, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil: Egba, 2019. (Translated collection of essays by Valnizia Bianch from Portuguese to English)

“Afro-Brazilian Religion, Resistance and Environmental Ethics: A Perspective from Candomblé,” translation and annotation of lecture by Valdina Oliveira Pinto, in Ecowomanism: Religion and Ecology, editor, Melanie Harris. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill Press, 2017

“Makota Valdina: Candomblé Cosmology and Environmental Education” Translation of lecture by Valdina Oliveira Pinto at the Iliff School of Theology in 2000.  Published on the Veterans of Hope Project website, October 2016. http://www.veteransofhope.org/afro-brazilian-religious-wisdom-environmental-justice/

  • ETST 2000   Introduction to Ethnic Studies 
  • ETST 2155   African American History 
  • ETST 3794   Ethnicity and Race in American Popular Culture 
  • ETST 3110   Indigenous Studies  
  • ETST 3155   The African Diaspora 
  • ETST/RLST 3300  Shamanic Traditions 
  • ETST 4220   African American Literature