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Professor of African and African American Studies and Professor of African Religious Traditions
Barker Center 249
Department of African and African American Studies
12 Quincy St. Barker CenterCambridge, MA 02138
Jacob K. Olupona is Professor of African Religious Traditions, Harvard Divinity School and Professor of African and African American Studies in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. He studied at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and Boston University where he received his Ph.D in Comparative Religion in 1983. He is currently working on a path-breaking study of the religious practices of the estimated one million Africans who have emigrated to the United States over the last 40 years, examining in particular several populations that remain relatively invisible in the American religious landscape: "reverse missionaries" who have come to the U.S. to establish churches, African Pentecostals in American congregations, American branches of independent African churches, and indigenous African religious communities in the U.S. Olupona has authored or edited seven books, including Kingship, Religion and Rituals in a Nigerian Community: A Phenomenological Study of Ondo Yoruba Festivals. In his forthcoming book Ile-Ife: The City of 201 Gods, he examines the modern urban mixing of ritual, royalty, gender, class, and power, and how the structure, content, and meaning of religious beliefs and practices permeate daily life. Olupona has received prestigious grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, the Ford Foundation, the Davis Humanities Institute, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the Getty Foundation. He has served on the editorial boards of three influential journals and was the president of the African Association for the Study of Religion. In 2000, Olupona received an honorary doctorate in divinity from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.