Department of Anthropology
My research analyzes the politics of social production and value, material culture, visuality, gender, Islam, and globalization. These interests have emerged from my fieldwork in Senegal and with Senegalese migrants in New York City and Chicago. My fieldwork in Senegal from 1999-2000 resulted in the book, Muslim Families in Global Senegal (Indiana University Press 2011). I analyze Muslim trade networks and the transmission of enduring social value though cloth and religious offerings. Highlighting women's participation in these networks and the financial strategies they rely on, I consider the connections between economic profits and ritual and social authority. I argue that these strategies are not responses to a dispersed community in crisis, but rather produce new roles, wealth, and worth for Senegalese women in all parts of the globe.
In New York City my research has considered the predicament of Senegalese Muslim traders who deal in grey market goods (designer purses, CDs and DVDs). My work has considered the political dimensions of official and unofficial economies to address topics that are gaining attention within and beyond academia such as Islam, civil liberties, immigration reform, debates over new media technologies, unregulated economic networks and the U.S. led global War on Terror. I published this work in a chapter in Hard Work, Hard Times: Global Volatility and African Subjectivities (U. California Press 2010), which I edited with Anne-Maria B. Makhulu and Stephen Jackson.
Currently I am working to complete a book manuscript, The Global Circulation of Photography in Muslim Senegal. My book focuses on the global movements of photographers through the colonial cities of St. Louis and Dakar in the French Soudan, and ways in which present day photographers re-envision narratives of colonial history and build on their personal family archives and albums of photography to grapple with urban transformations.