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Professor Emerita of Anthropology, African Studies, and Gender and Women's Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

I am a cultural anthropologist who has lectured and conducted research around the world for > 35 years, including conducting intensive fieldwork with the Beng people in the rain forest of Côte d'Ivoire. My research specialties include young children, families, and motherhood; women's body issues and other components of the gendered experience; indigenous religious practices; ethnographic writing; and contemporary African immigrant and diaspora experiences.

My first book (co-edited with Thomas Buckley), Blood Magic: The Anthropology of Menstruation, was listed in Choice as one of ten Outstanding Academic Books in Anthropology published in 1988, and fourteen years later won the first Most Enduring Edited Collection Award from the Council for the Anthropology of Reproduction (American Anthropological Association). Another book, Parallel Worlds: An Anthropologist and a Writer Encounter Africa (co-authored with writer, Philip Graham), won the Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing from the Society for Humanistic Anthropology (American Anthropological Association). Another book, The Afterlife Is Where We Come from: The Culture of Infancy in West Africa (2004), was the Highly Commended Runner-up for the Amaury Talbot Prize for African Anthropology (Royal Anthropological Institute). And another recent book that I edited, The Restless Anthropologist: New Fieldsites, New Visions, was one of 12 anthropology "Core Titles for 2012" titles listed by YBP Library Services.

My latest book (co-edited with psychologist, Judy DeLoache), A World of Babies: Imagined Childcare Guides for Eight Societies, appeared earlier this year. Aimed at a broad reading public, the Facebook page for the book has been seen by > 400,000 viewers to date.

My current research project concerns the Cape Verdean community, especially in New England and elsewhere in diaspora. I also administer the Beng Community Fund (which I co-founded and co-direct with Philip Graham), a 501 (c) (3) non-governmental organization that benefits the Beng people of Côte d’Ivoire.

My research and writing have been supported by the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, Social Science Research Council, National Endowment for the Humanities, Wenner-Gren Foundation, and other agencies.

I have held teaching and research appointments at Princeton University, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris), Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium), Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas/ Universidade Técnica de Lisboa (Lisbon), Université National de Côte d'Ivoire (Abidjan), University of Virginia, Lewis and Clark College, and elsewhere. After retiring last spring from teaching full-time at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 1983, I am currently a Visiting Scholar in Anthropology at Brown University.

My professional website:


  • –present
    Professor Emerita of Anthropology, African Studies, and Gender and Women's Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


  • 1983 
    University of Virginia, Anthropology