Jacob K. Olupona - Professor of African Religious Traditions

Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences

CSWR, Room 114

42 Francis Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138

Lori Holter, lholter@hds.harvard.edu


Jacob K. Olupona is a noted scholar of indigenous African religions who came to Harvard from the University of California, Davis in 2006.

His current research focuses on the religious practices of the estimated one million Africans who have emigrated to the United States over the last 40 years, examining in particular several populations that remain relatively invisible in the American religious landscape: "reverse missionaries" who have come to the U.S. to establish churches, African Pentecostals in American congregations, American branches of independent African churches, and indigenous African religious communities in the U.S. His earlier research ranged across African spirituality and ritual practices, spirit possession, Pentecostalism, Yoruba festivals, animal symbolism, icons, phenomenology, and religious pluralism in Africa and the Americas. In his forthcoming book Ile-Ife: The City of 201 Gods, he examines the modern urban mixing of ritual, royalty, gender, class, and power, and how the structure, content, and meaning of religious beliefs and practices permeate daily life. He has authored or edited eight other books, including, most recently, Òrìsà Devotion as World Religion: The Globalization of Yorùbá Religious Culture, co-edited with Terry Rey.

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