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prof. dr. W.E.A. van Beek

Full Professor Anthropology of Religion

Tilburg School of Humanities
Department of Culture Studies


 Anthropology of religion. Within that field I concentrate on African traditional religions (plural definitely intended) in their interaction with modernity and globalisation, plus the changing relations of these religions with their societal and ecological roots. These studies are based upon long and intensive fieldwork among the Kapsiki/Higi on the frontier between North-Cameroon and North-Eastern Nigeria, and among the Dogon of Central Mali. Fieldwork started resp. in 1972 and 1978 and still is performed by periodical return visits.

Theoretically the project is about the development of ritual theory, in which I take a major inspiration from  the 'modes of religion theory', in which the analysis of ritual is crucial in understanding both religious acts and concepts. Tied into this, I also engage in Mormon studies, a case of a scriptural religion contrasting with the two oral African ones.


Principal publications

  •   2008    In memory of a great singer: the Dogon baja ni as a cultural-historical performance, S. Belcher, J. Jansen & M. N?Daou (eds.) Mande Mansa, Mande Worlds 2, 193-215.
  •   2007    The escalation of witchcraft accusations, in G. ter Haar (ed.) Imagining evil. Witchcraft beliefs and accusations in contemporary Africa, Trenton, N.J., Africa World Press 2007, p. 293 ? 316.
  •   2007    Agency in Kapsiki Religion, a comparative approach, in M. de Bruijn, R. van Dijk & J.-B. Gewald (eds.) Strength beyond structure. Social and historical trajectories of agency in Africa, Leiden, Brill, 2007, p. 114-143.
  •   2006  Boys and masks among the Dogon, in S. Ottenberg & D.A. Binckley (eds.) Playful Performers. African Children?s Masquerades, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick & London, p. 67 ? 88.
  •  2005    Mormon Europeans or European Mormons? An Afro-European look at religious colonization. Dialogue, 38, 4, p. 3 ? 36.
Click here for the complete list of publications (Tilburg University Repository Publications only)
Last amended: 23 December 2013