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.
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.
The Afro-Atlantic religions dramatize the idea that the person is a vessel of multiple, largely exogenous beings, monarchs and slaves prominently among them. The sacred icons of Santeria/Ocha, Candomble, Haitian Vodou, Yoruba indigenous religion, Kongo indigenous religion,and the Western-style nation-state are employed to illustrate this principle, as well as the apparent irony that such religions have proliferated in the context of the modern republic and its neo-liberal transformations.
This article is in revision.
Culture and Stigma concerns personal experiences and the cultural self-fashioning of Louisiana Creoles of color, Indians of partly African ancestry, Gullah/Geechees, West Indians, and Africans at Howard University and in its alumni networks. The book explores the role of racism and other forms of stigma in the propagation of ethnic identities.
I completed the manuscript in November.