Professional Bio


  • Ph.D., Religious Studies, University of Virginia, 2014
  • M.A., Religious Studies, University of Virginia, 2011
  • B.A., Religion, Sociology, Trinity University 2005

Professional Memberships

  • American Academy of Religion
  • African Studies Association

Research & Scholarship

Research Interests



Birth rituals

Rites of initiation for children

African religions

History of religion in Madagascar

Identities in pluralistic religious contexts

Interfaith dialogue/collaboration


“Hosting a First Haircutting in Diégo Suarez, Madagascar” in Everyday Life on the African Continent, Ohio University Press, forthcoming, 2019. 

Turning ‘Water Babies’ (Zaza Rano) into ‘Real Human Beings’ (Vrai Humains): Rituals of Blessing for the Newly Born in Diégo Suarez, Madagascar, Journal of Religion in Africa, 47, 2: 2018. 

“In Pursuit of Prosperity: Prostitution and Pentecostalism in a Malagasy Port Town,” Review of Cole, Jennifer, Sex and Salvation: Imagining the Future in Madagascar. H-Histsex, H-Net Reviews. March 2013.


“ ‘Make My Hands Holy’: How Gift-Giving (Hasin-Tanana) and the Malagasy Ethic of Reciprocity (Fihavanana) Equips Traditional Healers to Provide Clients with Much Needed Therapeutic Resources in Regions of Medical Scarcity,” American Academy of Religion Annual Conference, Atlanta, 2015 [Conference missed due to illness]

“Delivering More Than Babies: Understanding the Role of Traditional Midwives in Diego Suarez, Madagascar,” 10th Madagascar Workshop, Montreal, 2015

“Adorn Them with Amulets or Exorcise Them of Evil? How Malagasy Shepherd Healers are Changing the Religious Landscape of Madagascar,” African Studies Association Annual Conference, Baltimore, 2013

 “Turning ‘Water Babies’ into ‘Real Human Beings’: Post-partum Rituals for Achieving Health in Mothers and Infants in Northern Madagascar,” American Academy of Religion Annual Conference, Chicago, 2012

“Pills, Plants or Knives under their Pillows? Religious and Medical Strategies for Raising Healthy Babies in Madagascar,” African Studies Association Annual Conference, Philadelphia, 2012

Awards & Recognition

Fellowships and Awards

Pre-doctoral Fellowship (Carter Woodson Institute for African and African-American Studies), two-year dissertation writing fellowship: 2012-2014

Frank L. Hereford, Jr. Presidential Fellowship (Graduate School of Arts and Sciences), five-year merit based fellowship awarded to incoming graduate students who demonstrate “superb” potential: 2007-2011

Skinner Scholarship (University of Virginia James H. Skinner Memorial Scholarship Fund), leadership and community service scholarship: 2008-2010

Summer Foreign Language Institute Fellowship (Graduate School of Arts and Sciences), used   to study Malagasy at University of Antsiranana in Madagascar: summer of 2008

Summer Language Scholarship (Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Society of Fellows) used to study Advanced Swahili at the Summer Cooperative African Language Institute hosted by Michigan State University: summer of 2009