DOI: 10.3390/rel14121488 ISSN: 2077-1444

HIStory against the World: Religion, Black Iconicity, and the Haunting Stretcher Photos of Michael Jackson and Tupac Shakur

James Howard Hill, Bryson White
  • Religious studies

This article examines how Michael Jackson’s 1984 stretcher photo and Tupac Shakur’s 1994 stretcher photo scrambles the disciplinary boundaries surrounding the academic study of religion. Drawing inspiration from Manning Marable’s concept of Blackwater, this study explores the complexities of black iconicity’s relationship to black suffering in the modern world. Through a critical analysis of the production and circulation of Jackson and Shakur’s respective stretcher photos, the following account highlights the disruptive force of black iconicity in modern society, unraveling its implications for religious meaning. By tarrying with these haunting photographic representations, this article prompts a reevaluation of the relation between (anti)blackness, visual culture, religion, and popular culture.