J. Lorand Matory is Lawrence Richardson Professor of Cultural Anthropology and African and African American Studies and Professor of African and African American Studies at Duke University. He researches the trans-Atlantic comings and goings of Yoruba religion, which has shaped social order and traditions of worship and healing all over the Americas. He also studies ethnic diversity in the Black population of the United States.
With the support of the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Spencer Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Education’s Fulbright-Hays Fellowship, he has conducted extensive field research in Brazil, Nigeria, and the United States.
Choice magazine selected Dr. Matory’s Sex and the Empire That Is No More: Gender and the Politics of Metaphor in Oyo Yoruba Religion (Minnesota, 1994; Berghahn Press, 2005) as an Outstanding Book of the Year in 1994, and his Black Atlantic Religion: Tradition, Transnationalism and Matriarchy in the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé (Princeton University Press, 2005) received the Melville J. Herskovits Prize for the best book of the year from the African Studies Association. He has also published over forty articles in various peer-reviewed journals, edited volumes, newspapers, and magazines.
He is currently writing a book on the history and experience of Nigerians, Trinidadians, Ethiopians, African-descended Native Americans, Louisiana Creoles, Gullah/Geechees and other ethnic groups that make up the black population of the United States. It focuses on the transformative coexistence of these groups at the United States’ leading historically Black university—Howard University. In fall 2008, the results were delivered as the Lewis Henry Morgan Lectures at the University of Rochester, anthropology’s most prestigious lecture series. They will be published by the University of Chicago Press under the title Of the Race but above the Race: Stigma and the Schooling of Ethnicity in the “Mecca” of Black Education.
Spanish-language translation of Black Atlantic Religion. The classical African-inspired religions of the Americas result not from the inert "survival " of African identities and practices predating the slave trade but from a circum-Atlantic "dialogue" among Africans, African Americans, European colonialists, white creoles, and culturally hybrid black trans-Atlantic travelers, who selectively canonized and revised their African-inspired religions in reaction to the politics of multiple African colonies and American nation-states.
This book was solicited for translation and presentation as the featured book of the "Festival del Caribe" in July 2014 or 2015, hosted by the Casa del Caribe in Santiago de Cuba.
The dialectical construction of "cultural" identities among Caribbean immigrants, African immigrants, Louisiana Creoles of color,Native Americans of African descent, Gullah-Geechees, and soi-disant "middle-class" African Americans in and around Howard University is a locus classicus for the hypothesis that stigma is a driving force behind ethnogenesis worldwide. As a world of the stigmatized and ambitious, the university is an important site of the articulation of "cultural" identities whereby discreditable populations endeavor to distinguish themselves from the main "constituent other"--in this case, ostensibly normative African Americans--in the social field that they share. I coin the term "ethnological Schadenfreude" to explain the a priori and logically concomitant representation of the constituent other as culturally inferior.
The book has been revised following anonymous review and is scheduled for publication in 2014.
In a half-dozen countries around the world, affirmative action and its counterparts have been prompted by diverse circumstances, taken diverse forms,encountered diverse forms of resistance, and had diverse outcomes. While its implementation is increasingly challenges in the US, it is being implemented with increasing frequency and intensity in many countries, and often with a broader and more radical set of goals.
I was the Executive Producer of this latest CAAAR production. I reviewed the transcripts of our fall 2012 scholarly conference, distilled the central themes, researched affirmative action-related news, constructed the story line and worked with the Director in coordinating a team of professors, researchers, editors and cinematographers. The film integrates footage of scholar interviews with real-world footage of the people and populations affected. This is a painstaking and original scholarly intervention, in every way equivalent to a publication.
Over time, an identifiable but changing set of tropes has organized hypotheses and research in the study of the African diaspora. Those same tropes have consequently influenced the self-conceptions and social organization of African and African-diaspora communities, a fact that deserves recognition in the analytic tropes that researchers and writer employ.