• B.A. Anthropology, Amherst College, 1968
  • US Peace Corps, Republic of Chad, 1968-70
  • M.A. & Ph.D. Anthropology, University of Chicago, 1972, 1980
  • Postdoc, Michigan Society of Fellows, 1981-3


  • Symbolic thought and local-level politics in southeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Social impacts of renewable-energy applications in developing countries (Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Gabon, Guyana, Kenya, Mali, Marshall Islands, Tunisia, Zimbabwe)
  • Recycling and the nature of creativity (Republic of Benin, Senegal)
  • Sufi arts of urban Senegal
  • Devotional arts associated with Shri Shirdi Sai Baba (Germany, Ghana, India, Mauritius, South Africa)


  • Ethnography of Religions
  • Myth and Ritual
  • Visual Cultures
  • Theories of Culture
  • Arts of Time


Books and Websites

  • African Masks and Masquerades, a 2-part Batch from African Arts for e-readers, MIT Press Journals, 2016.
  •, website for research with M.N.Roberts on visual devotions, launched 2014.
  • A Dance of Assassins: Performing Early Colonial Hegemony in the Congo (2013, Indiana University Press).
  • Visions of Africa: Luba, with Mary Nooter Roberts, in English and French (2007, Paris: 5Continents Press).
  • A Saint in the City: Sufi Arts of Urban Senegal, with Mary Nooter Roberts (2003, Univ. of Washington Press).
  •, website for A Saint in the City” research program, launched 2000.
  • A Sense of Wonder, with Mary Nooter Roberts (1997: University of Washington Press).
  • The Shape of Belief, with Mary Nooter Roberts (1996: University of Washington Press).
  • LUBA, with Mary Nooter Roberts (1996: New York: Rosen Books).
  • MEMORY: Luba Art and the Making of History, with Mary Nooter Roberts (1996: Munich: Prestel)
  • Animals in African Art: From the Familiar to the Marvelous (1995: Munich: Prestel)
  • The Rising of a New Moon: A Century of Tabwa Art, with Evan M. Maurer (1985: Univ. of Washington Press). 

Selected Recent Articles (among more than 100 published)

  • “Beyond the Betweens: Swahili Coast from a Hinterland,” in World on the Horizon, Purpura and Meier, eds. 2017.
  • “Spiritscapes of the Indian Ocean World” (w/ MNR), in d’Afrique en Asie, D. Malaquais, ed. Paris: PURH 2016.
  • “The Visual Performative of Senegalese Sufism” (w/ MNR), in Practicing Sufism, A. Hannoum, ed. Routledge, 2016
  • “Why the Hero Lost His Teeth,” in La Danse du Masque. Belgium: Royal Museum for Central Africa 2016.
  • “Icons from the End of Days: Visual Hagiography Among Layennes of Senegal,” World Art, 2013.
  • “Citoyenneté visuel au Sénégal contemporain,” Les arts de la citoyenneté, M. Diouf, ed. Karthala, 2013.
  • “Performing Cosmology, ” in African Cosmos, C. Kreamer, ed. Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, 2012.
  • “Les arts itératifs au Sénégal” (with M. N. Roberts), La fabrique des images, Musée du quai Branly 2010.
  • “B ugabo: Arts, Ambiguity, and Transformation in Southeastern DRC,” 60-page paper at,
  • “Tempering ‘the Tyranny of Already,’” in Religion and Material Culture, D. Morgan, ed. Routledge, 2009.
  • “Flickering Images, Floating Signifiers” (with M.N.Roberts), Material Religion, 2008.
  • “Mystical Graffiti and the Refabulation of Dakar” (with M.N.Roberts), Africa Today, 2008.