‘Searching for Zion’: Emily Raboteau’s Hunt for the Promised Land

‘Searching for Zion’: Emily Raboteau’s Hunt for the Promised Land

The Daily Beast

Mindy Farabee

A writer set out around the world to find the mythical ‘promised land’ of the African diaspora. Emily Raboteau speaks about the Jewish search for the same, African-American tourism to Ghana, and Barack Obama’s ties to this search.

Mention the notion of Zion, author Emily Raboteau notes, and most people will think almost automatically of Israel. But for citizens of the African diaspora, Zion, with its promised land of abundance and freedom from oppression, has carried profound cultural significance since the days of slavery, when the saga of Hebrew slaves fleeing Egyptian captors served as a galvanizing narrative.

In Searching for Zion: The Quest for Home in the African Diaspora, Raboteau’s self-described “strange admixture” of travelogue, cultural anthropology, and historical study, the author uses this promised land as a point of departure, lighting out for Israel, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Ghana, and the post-Katrina American South to talk to immigrants and others who have wrestled with displacement.

Her new book likewise stumbles across complications everywhere. In this edited interview below, she talks about family ghosts, the other side of heritage tourism, and the state of Zion today…

Read the entire interview here.

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