Associate Professor of Anthropology
Office: Dana Science Center 354
Tel. (518) 580-5418
Sónia Silva is a social and cultural anthropologist specializing in sub-Saharan Africa. Her research interests span the fields of ritual and religion, material culture, violence, and museums, drawing on two years of fieldwork in northwest Zambia and the in-depth study of museum collections and exhibitions. Her publications include Along an African Border: Angolan Refugees and Their Divination Baskets (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011). Currently, she is preparing a new book project dealing with the representation of Africa at the National Ethnology Museum in Lisbon, Portugal, since the colonial period. She received her Ph.D. from Indiana University, Bloomington. Dr. Silva teaches Sub-Saharan Africa, Rethinking Materiality, Ritual and Religion, Museum Dilemmas, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, and History of Anthropological Thought.
Ph.D., Sociocultural Anthropology, Indiana University, Bloomington, 1999
Master of Arts, Sociocultural Anthropology, Indiana University, Bloomington, 1995
Licenciatura (BA), Social Anthropology, University of Lisbon, Portugal, 1991
Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Zambia and Angola
RESEARCH AND TEACHING INTERESTS
Ritual and religion; Art and materiality; Violence; Embodiment; Museums; Social theory
Africa in Stereotypes (SSP 101-001)
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (AN 101)
Sub-Saharan Africa from a Cultural Perspective (AN 227)
History of Anthropological Thought (AN 270)
Ritual & Religion (AN 343)
- Rethinking Materiality: The Anthropology of Stuff (AN 346)
- Museum Dilemmas (AN 351D)
(For full text versions, see Sónia Silva's page on academia.edu)
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press
(Contemporary Ethnography Series), 2011. Pp. 192.
Foreword by Michael Jackson. Lisbon: Instituto de
Ciências Sociais, 2004. Pp. 237 [in Portuguese]
Pp. 186 [in Portuguese and English].
JOURNAL ARTICLES AND BOOK CHAPTERS
- In prep. Living with the Spirits: Religion as a Way of Life. Religions. Special issue “Ethnographies of Worldviews/Ways of Life,” guest edited by Ann Taves
and Michael Kinsella.
- Under review. Fetish, Idol, Superstition.
- Forthcoming July 2018. Time, Prediction and the Future in Retrospective Divination:
A case from Zambia [in French]. Anthropologie et Sociétés [Québec] 42 (2-3). Special issue “Deviner, prévoir et faire advenir,” eds. Frédéric
Laugrand and Lionel Simon.
- Witchcraft and the Gift: Killing and Healing in Northwest Zambia. In Asking and Giving
in Religious and Humanitarian Endeavors, ed. Frederick Klaits, 25-45. London: Palgrave
- Art and Fetish in the Anthropology Museum. Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief 13 (1) (2017): 77-96.
- Objects and Objectivity in Divination. Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief 12 (4) (2016): 507–509.
- Political Evil: Witchcraft from the Perspective of the Bewitched. In Evil in Africa: Encounters with the Everyday, eds. William C. Olsen and Walter E. A. van Beek, 29-42. Bloomington: Indiana University
- Mobility and Immobility in the Life of an Amputee. In What is Existential Anthropology? Eds. Michael Jackson and Albert Piette, 125-154. Oxford: Berghahn Books. 2015.
- Mind, Body and Spirit in Basket Divination: An Integrative Way of Knowing. Religions 5 (4) (2014): 1175-1187.
- Remarks on Similarity in Ritual Classification: Affliction, Divination, and Object
Animation. History of Religions 53 (2) (2013): 151-169.
- Reification and Fetishism: Processes of Transformation. Theory, Culture & Society 30 (1) (2013): 79-98.
- Creativity Revisited: Narration and Embodiment in African Art. Museum Anthropology Review 6 (1) (2012):1-22.
Mothers of Solitude: Childlessness and Intersubjectivity in the Upper Zambezi. Anthropology and Humanism 34 (2) (2009):179-202.
Mães da Solidão: Socialidade, Empatia e Emoções no Sul da África Central. Etnográfica 9 (2) (2005):313-330 [in Portuguese].
The Birth of a Divination Basket. In Chokwe! Art and Initiation among the Chokwe and Related Peoples, edited by Manuel Jordán, 141-151. Munich: Prestel, 1998.
- The Expert Interpreter. Comment on Werbner, Richard. 2015. Divination's Grasp: Encounters With the Almost Said. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. (Contribution to book symposium organized
by Michael Lambek, University of Toronto). HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 6 (3) (2016): 425-431.
- Material, Embodied and Lived Religion: Basket Divination in Practice and Theory, Web blog post (3,873 words essay). Material Religions, 4 May 2016. Web.
- Review of Chiefs, Priests, and Praise-Singers: History, Politics, and Land Ownership in Northern Ghana, by Wyatt MacGaffey (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013). CELAAN 12 (1-2) (2015):167-170.
- Review of Makishi: Masked Characters of Zambia, by Manuel Jordán (Los Angeles: Fowler Museum at UCLA, 2006). Museum Anthropology Review 4 (1) (2010).
Personhood. The Oxford Encyclopedia of African Thought, edited by F. Abiola Irele and Biodun Jeyifo, 2:215-126. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.
Basketry: Africa. African Folklore: An Encyclopedia, edited by Philip Peek and Kwesi Yankah, 20-23. New York: Routledge, 2004.
Review of The Underneath of Things: Violence, History, and the Everyday in Sierra Leone, by Mariane C. Ferme (Berkeley: The University of California Press, 2001). American Ethnologist 29 (3) (2002):759-760.
Review of Questioning Misfortune: The Pragmatics of Uncertainty in Eastern Uganda, by Susan R. Whyte (Cambridge University Press, 1997). American Ethnologist 28 (1) (2001):216-217.
A Vez dos Cestos/ Time for Baskets, an ethnographic exhibition curated for the National Museum of Ethnology, Lisbon, 2003.
FELLOWSHIPS, GRANTS, AND HONORS
- American Philosophical Society Franklin Grant, 2017
Research Associate, Anthropology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, 2004–present
Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, Portugal, 2001–2004
Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Smithsonian Institution, 1999–2000
Dissertation Fieldwork Grant, Wenner-Gren Foundation, 1995–1996
Doctoral Research Fellowship, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Portugal, 1994–1996
Foreign Fulbright Fellow, Fulbright-Hays, 1992–1994