Elizabeth Perez

Assistant Professor of Religion

Elizabeth Pérez comes to the Religion Department after teaching, most recently, at Carleton College. She is an historian of religions specializing in African-influenced traditions of the Caribbean and Latin America, such as Haitian Vodou and Brazilian Candomblé. She received her bachelor’s degree in religion and cultural studies from Hampshire College in 1997, and her M.A. (1999) and Ph.D. (2010) from the University of Chicago Divinity School. Her publications include articles and several reviews. She is currently at work on her first book, based on doctoral research conducted in a predominantly Black community of Afro-Cuban Lucumí, Espiritismo, and Palo Monte practitioners on the South Side of Chicago. Her new research project examines the challenges of transgender and transsexual people as religious actors in the contemporary United States.

305 Thornton Hall
HB 6036
Women's and Gender Studies
B.A. Hampshire College
M.A. University of Chicago Divinity School
Ph.D. University of Chicago Divinity School

Selected Publications


“Portable Portals: Transnational Rituals for the Head Across Globalizing Orisha Traditions,” Nova Religio  16, no. 4 (2013): 35-62, special issue on religion and transnationalism in the Americas.

“Willful Spirits and Weakened Flesh: Historicizing the Initiation Narrative in Afro-Cuban Religions,” Journal of Africana Religions  1, no. 2 (2013): 151-93.

“Staging Transformation: Spiritist Liturgies as Theatres of Conversion in Afro-Cuban Religious Practice,” Culture and Religion  13, no. 3 (2012): 372-400.

“Cooking for the Gods: Sensuous Ethnography, Sensory Knowledge, and the Kitchen in Lucumí Tradition,” Religion  41, no. 4 (2011): 665-83.

“Spiritist Mediumship as Historical Mediation: African-American Pasts, Black Ancestral Presence, and Afro-Cuban Religions,” Journal of Religion in Africa  41, no. 4 (2011): 330-65.

“The Virgin in the Mirror: Reading Images of a Black Madonna Through the Lens of Afro-Cuban Women’s Experiences,” Journal of African-American History (Special Issue: “Explorations within the African Diaspora”) 95, no. 2 (2010): 202-28.

“Nobody’s Mammy: Yemayá as Fierce Foremother in Afro-Cuban Religions," in Yemoja: Gender, Sexuality, and Creativity in the Latina/o and Afro-Atlantic Diasporas, 1-20, edited by Solimar Otero and Toyin Falola, SUNY Press, October 2013.