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Assistant Professor of Religion and Africana Studies

Research Topics:

  • Decolonization/Decoloniality
  • Black Religions and Spiritualities
  • Black Feminisms
  • Black Performance Theory
  • Carnival
  • Race and Social Identities

Current Research Projects:

Black Spirits Matter (BSM) focuses on the interplay of the Black radical tradition, social justice, and religion in the African diaspora and West Africa as examples of spiritual citizenship in action.

Decolonizing Approaches to the Study of Religion is concerned with issues of decolonization, theoretically and methodologically in religious studies. This research area grapples with the conceptual tools of an Eurocentric epistemic framework, which implicitly normalizes multiple forms of oppression among communities that exist at the margins. Social science approaches to the study of religion need to consider this pernicious, often naturalized heritage in our discipline, which not only tends to render non-hegemonic epistemologies and ontologies illegible, but also sustains what Anibal Quijano (2000) calls “the coloniality of power.” 

Carnival as lived religion and performative praxis of resistance explores the Caribbean festival of Carnival as lived religion and performative praxis of resistance. This research area engages the expressive and ritual practices of Caribbean Carnivals as exemplars of liberation imaginaries and spaces of spiritual marronage.

Undergraduate Research Topics:

Charlotte Mulica (CSSH). “Acknowledgment, Redress, and Closure.” PEAK Experiences Summit Award. Summer 2021.

Past Research Topics:

Spiritual Citizenship: Transnational Pathways from Black Power to Ifá in Trinidad (Duke University Press 2017; winner of the Clifford Geertz Prize) argues that a West African inspired religion emerged into Trinidad’s public sphere during their 1970 Black power movement to become central to the development of decolonization practices and cultures in the post-colonial Caribbean by informing new spiritual practices of collective belonging.

Affiliated Research Centers:

Recent News/Selected Publications/Selected Talks:


2024   “Navigating the Africana Studies Joint Position” with Bertin M. Louis. In Conditionally Accepted: Navigating Higher Education from the Margins, edited by Eric Joy Denise and Bertin M. Louis, Jr. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

2022    Ifá/Orisha Digital Counterpublics. The Black Scholar 52(3): 17–29 (special issue “Black Religions in the Digital Age” edited by Margarita Guillory).

2022    Subjectivity: Offerings from African Diasporic Religious Ethnography. Fieldwork in Religion 17(1): 72–83 (special issue “Critical Terms for the Ethnography of Religion” edited by Brendan Jamal Thornton and Eric Hoenes).

2021    Spiritual Ethnicity: Our Collective Ancestors in Ifá Devotion across the Americas. In Embodying Black Religions in Africa and Its Diasporas. edited by Yolanda Covington-Ward and Jeanette S. Jouili, 70-96. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.


State of the Field: African Diasporic Religious Feminisms for Emergent Justice Transitions. Presentation at the 122nd Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association. Toronto. November 2023.

In Conversation with Vodou en Vogue. Presentation at the 122nd Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association. Toronto. November. 2023.

Black Religion, Pedagogy, and Digital Media Symposium, Boston University, May 2023.

Multiple Subjectivities and the Ethnographic Study of Lived ReligionGnoseologies, Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard Divinity School. April 2023.

Collective Dialogue on Sylvia Wynter. Roundtable participant, Performance, Possession & Automation [a collaborative research project led by Nicholas Ridout, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), Dhanveer Singh Brar, University of Leeds and Orlagh Woods (creative producer)]. April 2023.

Experiments with Spiritual Power (Obeah II). Panel participant, Discussion Series Liberation 2023, Academy of Grace Institute of the Holy Spirit and National Library and Information Services (NALIS), Trinidad and Tobago. March 2023.

Ethnography and Black Religions, The Crossroads Project, Princeton University. December 2022.

On Subjectivity: Engaging the Divine. Roundtable discussion at the Transcendence and Transformation Initiative, Center for the Study of World Religions. Harvard Divinity School. October 2022.

Northeastern Features: