Brian C. Smithson is a cultural anthropologist who studies the audiovisual cultures and religions of West Africa. As a Woodson Research Associate, Brian is completing a book titled Aesthetics of Praise: Making Movies Religious in Bénin—a story about cash-strapped movie producers, Christian–Muslim animosities, and professional rivalries in Yorùbá-speaking Bénin. The book shows how moviemakers overcome these hurdles by championing Yorùbá indigenous religion, its ethical principles, and its moral demands.


Matthew Greer is a Ph.D. Candidate in Anthropology at Syracuse University, where his studies focus on the archaeology of enslaved life.  His dissertation project, Assembling Enslaved Lives: Labor, Consumption, and Landscapes in the Northern Shenandoah Valley, uses historical archaeology, Black studies, and assemblage theory to write the stories of enslaved people in back into the history of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.


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