J. Lorand Matory
Lawrence Richardson Professor of Cultural Anthropology

Specialties

Anthropology & History, Africa, African Diaspora, Transnationalism, Social Theory

Research Summary

Anthropology of religion, of ethnicity, of education and of social theory; history and theory of anthropology; African and African-inspired religions around the Atlantic perimeter; ethnic diversity in the African-descended population of the US; tertiary education as a culture; gender, religion and politics; transnationalism; spirit possession; hierarchy in religion, politics and eroticism

Research Description

J. Lorand Matory is the Lawrence Richardson Professor of Cultural Anthropology and the Director of the Sacred Arts of the Black Atlantic Project at Duke University.

The author of four books and more than 50 articles and reviews, he is also the executive producer and screenwriter of five documentary films. Choice magazine named his Sex and the Empire That Is No More: Gender and the Politics of Metaphor in Ọyọ Yoruba Religion an outstanding book of the year in 1994, and his Black Atlantic Religion: Tradition, Transnationalism, and Matriarchy in the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé won the Herskovits Prize from the African Studies Association for the best book of 2005.  In 2010, he received the Distinguished Africanist Award from the American Anthropological Association, and, in 2013, the government of the Federal Republic of Germany awarded him the Alexander von Humboldt Prize, a lifetime achievement award that is one of Europe's highest academic distinctions.  Professor Matory was also selected to deliver anthropology’s most prestigious annual address, the Lewis Henry Morgan Lecture, which resulted in the book Stigma and Culture: Last-Place Anxiety in Black America (2015), concerning the competitive and hierarchical nature of ethnic identity-formation.  His latest book, The “Fetish” Revisited: Marx, Freud and the Gods Black People Make (2018), received the 2019 Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion in the Analytical-Descriptive category.

Professor Matory is a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Chicago, and he has conducted 35 years of intensive research on the great religions of the Black Atlantic—West African Yoruba religion, West-Central African Kongo religion, Brazilian Candomblé, Cuban Santería/Ocha, and Haitian Vodou.  In recognition of his outstanding scholarship, he also served, from 2009 to 2013, as the James P. Marsh Professor at Large at the University of Vermont, one of that University’s highest honors.

Current Projects

The Romance of Authority: Hierarchy and Community in the Afro-Atlantic Religions, or BDSM as an Afro-Atlantic Religion

Areas of Interest

spirit possession
African religions
African-diaspora religions
Afro-Atlantic religions
Gender
transnationalism
African culture in the Americas
religion and politics
BDSM

Media Appearances

Vodou and Other African Religions

Vodou and Other African-Inspired Religions

Vodou and Other African-Inspired Religions

Lucumi Music: Singing, Dancing and Drumming Black Divnity

"Global Affirmative Action in a Neoliberal Age"

 “Can We Talk?: Bridges between the Humanities and the Social Sciences”

 “Human Traffic: Past and Present”     

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Contact Information

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