Dr. Joseph Hellweg
Joseph Hellweg (Ph.D., 2001, University of Virginia, Anthropology). I am a cultural anthropologist with interests in religion, Islam, politics, performance, and health in West Africa, where I have done over five years of fieldwork?in Cote dfIvoire, Guinea, and Mali. I speak French and Manding fluently and have acquired basic reading and writing competence in the Nfko alphabet for writing Manding.
My research has focused on social movements organized around or in tandem with religious practices and ideologies. I have written extensively on Benkadi, the dozo huntersf security movement of Cote dfIvoire. More recently, I have begun to explore a literacy and healing movement in Guinea and Mali centered on the use of an alphabet called gNfko,h invented in West Africa in 1949.
In my teaching, I attempt to bring to awareness the implicit cultural categories that organize daily life, especially in Africa and the United States. I also train students in the theoretical and methodological approaches necessary for an empirical understanding of and engagement with these categories in their academic and everyday lives.
Beyond the university, I have served as an expert witness in numerous asylum cases for political refugees from Cote dfIvoire. I am an active member of the African Studies Association, the American Academy of Religion, the American Anthropological Association, and the Mande Studies Association.
Field of Study
- African Religions
- Performance in West Africa
- 2011. Hunting the Ethical State: The Benkadi Movement of Cote dfIvoire (University of Chicago Press).
- 2011. Anthropologie, les premiers pas: Introduction a la modelisation et aux methodes de la recherche qualitative en sciences sociales (LfHarmattan, Paris).