Sexual Secrets: Candomblé, Brazil, and the Multiple Intimacies of the African Diaspora

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2004

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Scholars@Duke

Matory

J. Lorand Matory

Lawrence Richardson Distinguished 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 Distinguished Professor of Cultural Anthropology and the Director of the Sacred Arts of the Black Atlantic Project at Duke University. He is a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Chicago, and he has conducted over four decades 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.  

Professor Matory is the author of four books and more than 50 articles and reviews, he is also the executive producer and/or 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 from the American Academy of Religion, the 2018-2019 Senior Book Prize of the American Ethnological Society, and the 2022 J. I. Staley Prize of the School for Advanced Research.

From 2003 to 2009, he served as a member of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee of the US Department of State and, from 2009 to 2013, as the James P. Marsh Professor at Large at the University of Vermont, one of that institution’s highest honors. 

Current Projects

Slavery in the Heart of Freedom: Race, Religion, and Romance through the Lens of BDSM
The University as a Culture
White People: In Anthropological Perspective
China from an Afro-Atlantic Perspective

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”     


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