JoAnn D'Alisera

JoAnn D'Alisera

Assoc Professor& Interim Chair

J. William Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences


Phone: 479-575-4460

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JoAnn D’Alisera is Associate Professor of Anthropology, Interim Chair and the Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Anthropology. She teaches courses on Africa, Africans in America, Religion, Material Culture, Transnational Communities, Islam, Cities, Commemoration and Memorialization. Dr. D’Alisera’s first book, An Imagined Geography: Sierra Leonean Muslims in America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), examines the way Sierra Leonean Muslims fashion a sense of community in an American urban context.  Her second project, funded by a Rockefeller Fellowship in the Humanities and Russell Sage Foundation grant explores the social experiences of Sierra Leonean Muslims, African foreign nationals, and US citizens of recent African origin living in Washington, D.C. in the aftermath of 9/11. She is currently completing a manuscript based on this work entitled, City Space and the Poetics of Pious Enactment: Making Muslim Selves in the Sierra Leonean Diaspora in which she explores the way Sierra Leonean Muslims remake city space through acts of worship that disrupt the taken-for-granted spatial narratives that cast the city as the primary symbol of national belonging, civic dignity, and power in the American popular imagination. She has published journal articles in PoLar: The Political and Legal Anthropology Review, Journal of Material Culture, African Diaspora, Anthropology Today and Anthropology and Humanism.

  • West Africa
  • Africans in America
  • Islam
  • American Islam
  • City Cultures
  • Religion
  • Material Culture
  • Memorialization
  • Commemoration
  • Representation
  • Anthropology of Experience
  • Transnational Communities and Identities

ANTH 1023  Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
ANTH 3123  Anthropology of Religion
ANTH 4363  Museums, Material Culture, and the Popular Imagination
ANTH 4513  African Religions: Gods, Witches, Ancestors
ANTH 4583  Sub-Saharan African Cultures
ANTH 4903  Material Religion
ANTH 5113  Anthropology of the City
ANTH 6813  Fieldwork, Fieldnotes, and Ethnographic Writing

Ph.D. University of Illinois


An Imagined Geography: Sierra Leonean Muslims in America. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004, pp.181

City Space and the Poetics of Pious Enactment: Making Muslim Selves in the Sierra Leonean Diaspora (in progress)


“Public Spaces/Muslim Places: Locating Sierra Leonean Muslim Identity in Washington, D.C.,” African Diaspora 3:1 (2010), 93-109

“Images of a Wounded Homeland: Sierra Leonean-American Children and the New Heart of Darkness,” Nancy Foner (ed.), Family Ties: Immigrant Families in America.  New York: New York University Press. (2009), pp 114-34

“Icons of Longing: Homeland and Memory in the Sierra Leonean Diaspora,” PoLar: The Political and Legal Anthropology Review 25:2 (2002), 73-89

“I ♥ Islam: Popular Religious Commodities, Sites of Inscription, and Transnational Sierra Leonean Identity,” Journal of Material Culture 6:1 (2001), 89-108

 “Field of Dreams: The Anthropologist Far Away at Home,” Anthropology and Humanism 24 (1999), 5-19

“Born in the USA: Naming Ceremonies of Infants among Sierra Leoneans in the American Capital,” Anthropology Today 14 (1998), 16-18