Affiliation: NYU Abu Dhabi
Education: BA University of Washington; MA New York University; PhD University of California Los Angeles
Research Areas: visual ethnography; aesthetics; politics; performance; media; postcolonial theory; violence; war; humanitarianism; West Africa (Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso); South India
Samuel Mark Anderson is an ethnographer of West African expressive culture and its encounters with religion, politics, and public health. His current research in Sierra Leone tracks a former militia commander who redeploys defensive mystic powers he gained in wartime for touring spectacles promoting reconciliation, cultural reconstruction, Islam, and development projects. Such events serve as a lens through which to compare a broad range of programs promoting individual and social transformation — from political rallies to initiatory rituals to quarantine measures. Sam Anderson also collaborates on ethnographic films and exhibitions including a series on South Indian ritual. He has written for the journals Africa, Cultural Anthropology, and American Ethnologist, and is co-editor of the volume The Art of Emergency: Aesthetics and Aid in African Crises (Oxford University Press). His work has been funded by the Social Science Research Council, the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation, the US Fulbright Program, and a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard.