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

Full Professor 

Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences
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

  • 2014 (with H. Tourneux) Contes Kapsik du Cameroun, Paris, Karthala 2014 Sacred Spaces and Contested Identities, edited with Paul Post & Philip Nel. Trenton: Africa World Press. 2014 Dynamic of Kapsiki/Higi marriage exchanges, in Les échanges et la communication dans le bassin du lac Tchad, edited by Sergio Baldi and Geraud Magrin, Naples University, Studi Africanistici, Serie Ciado-Sudanese 6, p. 105-131
  • 2013 Intensive slave-raiding in the colonial interstice. Hamman Yaji and the Kapsiki/Higi of North Cameroon and Northeastern Nigeria, Journal of History in Africa, 53: 301-323 2013 Connecting ourselves. A Dogon ethnic association and the impact of connectivity, in R. van Dijk & M. de Bruin (eds.) The Social Life of Connectivity in Africa, New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 243-264.
  • 2013 Reviewing Reality. Dynamics of African Divination, P. Peek & W.E.A. van Beek (eds.) Berlin: LIT Verlag.
  • 2012 The Dancing Dead. Ritual and Religion among the Kapsiki/Higi of North Cameroon and Northeastern Nigeria, New York, Oxford University Press, 2012. 2012 African Hosts and their Guests. Dynamics of Cultural Tourism, ed. by W.E.A. van Beek & A. Schmidt, James Currey, Oxford, 2012
Last amended: 13 October 2014