African Studies Workshop featuring Robert Blunt


Monday, April 22, 2019, 6:00pm to 8:00pm


Center for African Studies Lounge - 1280 Massachusetts Ave., 3rd Floor, Cambridge, MA

Robert Blunt is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Africana Studies at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. He holds a BA from Lewis & Clark College in Religious Studies, an MA in Biblical Languages from the Graduate Theological Union, an MA in the Social Sciences and a PhD in Sociocultural Anthropology from the University of Chicago. Rob’s research and teaching have focused on the historical relationships between religion, ritual, and political economy in colonial and postcolonial Kenya. His work reflects general concerns for tracing on the ground shifts between conceptions of morality and economy in Africa as they are expressed, contested, and lived in the interrelated workings of kinship, religion, and patrimonial politics. Rob’s articles have explored the workings of neoliberalism and Satanic conspiracy theory in Kenya, colonial transformations of African religion and ritual, the proliferation of oracular institutions in contemporary Kenyan life, and the implosion of Kenya’s patrimonial economy of circulation. His work can be found in HAU: The Journal of Ethnographic Theory, Suomen Antropologi, Journal of Religion in Africa, Social Dynamics, and Producing African Futures: Ritual and Reproduction in a Neoliberal Age. His book For Money and Elders: Ritual, Sovereignty, and the Sacred in Kenya is forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press in 2019. The book is a historical anthropology of religion, ritual, and sovereignty, framed by a reexamination of a classic anthropological category—what Igor Kopytoff once called “the eldership complex” in East and Central Africa. It focuses specifically on the trajectory of elderhood in Kenya over time, from the precolonial past to the postcolonial present.

He will present Anthropology After Dark: Nocturnal Life and the Anthropology of the Good Enough in Western Kenya.

Discussant: Crystel Oloukoi



A week in advance, the presenter’s paper will be circulated through the Harvard African Studies Workshop listserv. It is assumed that everyone has read the paper before the workshop.  After presentation and commentary, Workshop attendees are invited to engage in critique and discussion, under the moderation of the Workshop Chairs.

ORGANIZER(S):  Harvard University Center for African Studies