Dennis, Dorcas

  • Dr. Dorcas DennisDorcas Dennis received her PhD in religious studies with a concentration in the history and anthropology of religion from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand in 2017. 

    Her research interest is in the intersections between globalization, migration, and religion with a focus on the transcontinental religious and cultural traffic between Africa and the African Diaspora in North America, the Caribbean, and Australia. Her PhD thesis, titled “Travelling with the Spirit: Pentecostal Migration Religiosity between Ghana and Australia,” offers an account of the role of religious narratives and rituals in the processes of Ghanaian migrations and travels to Australia.

    Her earlier research focused on African traditional religions; their past and present expressions; their extensions in the Americas as manifested through traditions such as Obeah, Vodou, Santeria/Lukumi, Rastafari, and contemporary Yoruba and Akan originated traditions; and their interactions with “outside” religions, such as Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam. Her research in the area includes the “South to South Flows of Religion: The Migration of Rastafarian Symbols and Agents from Jamaica to Ghana,” a paper presented at the American Academy of Religion Southeastern Regional Meeting. Her research titled “Houngans and Mambos of the Diaspora: The Role of Vodou Ritual Specialists in Miami” focused on Haitian Vodou ritual praxis and discourses on health and healing and how these are linked with Haitian identity creation and performance in Miami, Florida.

    Her current project explores contemporary American expressions of African and African Diaspora religions such as can be found in LaPeristyle Haitian Sanctuary, “America’s first Vodou Church” in Pennsylvania, and the Vodou Holistic Spa and Healing Centre in Florida. These interests inform Dennis’ teaching approaches and understandings of religion generally.

    Dennis teaches Introduction to Religion, World Religions, and upper-level seminar courses, including African Traditional Religions and Introduction to Pan-African Studies. She is affiliated faculty for the Pan-African Studies program.

    Fall 2020

    Course and Section
    Course Name
    Day and Time
    RLST 100-002 Introduction to Religion MWF 10:10–11:00 a.m.
    HSS 126
    RLST 100-003
    Introduction to Religion MWF 12:20–1:10 p.m.
    HSS 126
    RLST 360-001
    African Religions MWF 2:30–3:20 p.m.
    HSS 117

    Office Hours (Virtual)

    • M: 9:00–10:30 a.m. 
    • T: 11:00a.m.–12:30 p.m. 
    • W: 9:00–10:30 a.m. 

    Contact Information