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Josef Sorett

Ph.D. in African American Studies, with a primary field in Religion

Class of 2008

Josef (pronounced Yo-sef) Sorett is an assistant professor of Religion and African-American Studies at Columbia University.  He is an interdisciplinary historian of religion in America, with a particular focus on black communities and cultures in the United States. His research and teaching interests include American religious history; African American religions; hip hop, popular culture and the arts; gender and sexuality; and the role of religion in public life. Josef earned his Ph.D. in African American Studies from Harvard University; and he holds a B.S. from Oral Roberts University and an M.Div. from Boston University. In support of his research, Josef has received fellowships from the Louisville Institute for the Study of American Religion, The Fund for Theological Education, Harvard’s Charles Warren Center for American History and Princeton University’s Center for African American Studies. He has published essays and reviews in Culture and Religion, Callaloo, the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, and PNEUMA: Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies,  as well as in such popular on-line publications, as Religion Dispatches, ABC News' Spirituality, and the Washington’s Post’s “On Faith” column.  Josef’s current book project, Spirit in the Dark: A Religious History of Racial Aesthetics (under contract with Oxford University Press) illumines how religion has figured into debates about black art and culture.  He is also editing an anthology that explores the sexual politics of black churches.


Balancing research with a passion for the classroom, before joining the faculty at Columbia Josef taught courses at Harvard, Tufts, Princeton and Medgar Evers College (CUNY).  In addition to his academic pursuits, Josef maintains an active commitment to public service; and he has over a decade of experience serving in leadership, research and advisory capacities with faith-based, non-profit and policy organizations.

Websites: Josef Sorett