Department of Religion
Eaton Hall, Room 313
Medford, MA 02155
Ph.D. Emory University
M.T.S. Harvard University
B.A. Emory University
African and African Diaspora Religions
Vodun Religious Cultures
Race, Religion, and Colonialism
Religion, Art, and Material Culture
Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion
Gender and Women’s Studies in Religion
Areas of Expertise:
African and African Diaspora Religions; Race, Religion, and
Colonialism; Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion
Elana Jefferson-Tatum received her PhD in religion from Emory
University in 2016. Her research investigates problems of
translation and interpretation in the study of African religious
cultures with an attention to theories and methods in the study of
religion that participate in colonialist constructions of African
and Africana sacred worlds as religiously other. Her current
research specifically investigates Vodun religious-material cultures
as productive sites for re-imagining "religion" as material,
immanent, and natural. She is presently revising her dissertation
project for book publication.
- Africana Sacred Matters (Fall 2017)
- (Mis-)Translating Vodun (Spring 2018)
- "The Violence of Translation: An Indigenous World-Sense &
The Western 'Prostitution' of Dahomean Bodies," Journal of Africana
Religions vol. 3, no.
3 (2015): 279-324.
Selected Conference Presentations:
- "Every Person has a Se: Towards a Vodun Philosophy of
Personhood," American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, San
Antonio, TX, November 21, 2016.
- "Sacred Matters: Africana Religious Materialities in Africa,
the Caribbean, and the Americas," American Academy of Religion
Annual Meeting, San Antonio, TX, November 21, 2016.
- "Beyond the Western Intellectual Landscape of Magic:
Materializations of the Sacred in Kongo Religious Worlds,"
American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, San Antonio, TX,
November 19, 2016.
- "From the Fetish Concept to the Construction of Religion:
The Discursive Formation of African Religious Others," American
Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA, November 23,
- "The Kola Tree and The Initiate: Towards an African Vodoun
Philosophy of Personhood," KOSANBA/Haitian Studies Association
Conference, Université de Montreal, Québec, Canada, October
- "Religion and the Politics of Materiality: Confronting
Immaterial Religion through Reflections on Vodoun Materialist
Orientations," American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, San
Diego, CA, November 2014.
- "The Leaves that Our Ancestors Put Together Will Never Be
Undone: Towards a Reevaluation of Natural Religion," Religion
and the Natural Elements, Northwestern University, October 2014.
Postdoctoral Fellow of Africana Studies, Hobart and William Smith
John Fenton Prize in the Comparative Study of Religion, Emory
University, Department of Religion, 2016.
Religious Practices and Practical Theology (RPPT) Dissertation
Fellow, Emory University, 2015-2016.
FTE Doctoral Fellow, Forum for Theological Exploration, 2009-2011,
Harvard University Presidential Scholar, 2007-2009.