Prof. Dorothea E. Schulz, Ph.D.

Research and Teaching Network: Media, Culture, and Society

Room: 6.109
Phone: +49 (0)221 470-4087
Email: dschulz5(at)
Consultation hours: entry on phil-services

For the Academic Year 2016/17, Professor Schulz will be affiliated with the Center for African Studies, Harvard University.  


I received my Ph.D. in sociocultural anthropology from Yale University and my Habilitation (second doctoral degree required for promotion in the German academic system) from the Free University, Berlin, Germany.

My research publications, and teaching are centered on the anthropology of religion, of mental health and spiritual well-being, political anthropology, Islam in Africa, gender studies and media studies. I also bring to my research and teaching a strong background in critical theory, social theory, and the anthropology of social organiation. I have extensive field research experience in West Africa, particularly in urban and rural Mali.

My new research project addresses questions pertaining to the broader field of medical anthropology and transcultural psychiatry, and spiritual and emotional well-being. Drawing on empirical research on Muslim minorities in two different regions of Uganda, I address the interplay between mental health, mourning, emotional coping, and future-making in a society haunted by traumatic experiences related to civil war. My analysis reaches beyond common approaches to "trauma" through a sustained attention to the discursive and auditory practices and symbolic-aesthetic forms through which Muslims and Christians seek to achieve greater public prominence and to partake in debates over the ordering of moral and social life. By situating these dynamics in the broader context of Ugandan state politics, I explore points of articulations and tensions between local-level and national politics of religious difference, and between conflicting understandings of how past "trauma" can be healed.

I am also currently finalizing a book manuscript ("Probing legitimacy") that capitalizes on my long-standing acquaintance with Malian politics and social history to make sense of the political crisis that has shaken the country for the past five years. My analysis centers on the attitudes, judgments and practices by which inhabitants of a rural area in southwestern Mali attribute (or disclaim) the legitimacy of the state and of individual powerholders. I also draw on my earlier work on praise-singers – often referred to as "griots"– whose mass-mediated performances aimed to bestow praise and legitimacy on Mali’s changing political regimes. At the heart of this analytic endeavor is an effort to interrogate the different dimensions, meanings and limits of political legitimacy in Mali.

My book “Muslims and New Media in West Africa: Pathways to God” (Indiana University Press, 2012) analyzes Muslim revivalist groups in Mali that take up transnational trends of Muslim moral reform and promote a relatively new conception of publicly enacted religiosity (significantly displayed in feminized signs of piety). The book draws on the anthropology of religion and on media studies, and on scholarship that examines gender and religion as modes of producing difference in a transnational context.

In another book, “Culture and Customs of Mali” (Greenwood/Clio Publishers, 2012), I acquaint students, non-Africanists, and the wider public with important features of everyday social and cultural life in Mali.

Research Grants/Awards/Fellowships

  • German Science Foundation Research Grants (4 on-going research projects)    
  • Fellow, Center for African Studies, Harvard University, 2016 and 2017
  • Fellow, Dept. of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo, Norway, 2010
  • Fellow, Berlin Graduate School for Muslim Cultures and Societies, Freie Universität Berlin, 2010
  • Fellow, Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory, University of Chicago, 2008
  • Fellow, Society for the Humanities, Cornell University 2005/06
  • Fellow, International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World, University of Leiden, The Netherlands, 2005
  • German Science Foundation Research Grant (2)
  • Wilhelm von Humboldt Foundation Fellowship

Research Projects and Cooperations

Migrationsentwürfe immobiler Akteure. Erwartungen, Diskurse und Praktiken männlicher Jugendlicher in der Hafenstadt Mahajanga/Madagaskar

DFG Projekt
Funding Period: 2012-2015
Project Leader: Prof. Dorothea E. Schulz
Researcher: Dr. Patrick Desplat

Mediality and Local Creativity in the Negotiation of Social-Ecological Resilience, Collapse and Reorganisation

Mediality and Local Creativity in the Negotiation of Social-Ecological Resilience, Collapse and Reorganisation

Sub Project of the DFG FOR 1501:  Resilience, Collapse and Reorganisation in Social-Ecological Systems of East- and South Africa's Savannahs
Project Leader: Prof. Dorothea Schulz, Ph.D.
Researcher: Christoph Matthiä, M.A.

Media-related Configurations of translocal social spaces by West African Migrants in Europe

Funding Period: August 2011 - July 2013
Project Leader: Prof. Dorothea Schulz, Ph.D.
Researcher: Simone Pfeifer, M.A.

Simone Pfeifer, M.A.

Collaboration with the University Siegen on the Research Training Group (Graduiertenkolleg) 'Locating Media'

DFG funded GRK 1769 "Locating Media"
Funding Period: October 2012 - March 2017

Recent Publications

  • Books

2015. (ed., together with Ute Röschentahler): Cultural Entrepreneurship in Afrika.
New York & London: Roudledge. 

2012. (ed., together with Patrick A. Desplat): Prayer in the City. The Making of
Muslim Sacred Places and Urban Life.
 Bielefeld: Transcript.

2012. Culture and Customs of Mali. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO/
Greenwood Publishers.

2012. Muslims and New Media in West Africa: Pathways to God. Bloomington,
Indiana: Indiana University Press. 

2010. (ed., together with Jochen Seebode): Prisma und Spiegel. Ethnologie
zwischen postkolonialer Kritik und Deutung der eigenen Gesellschaft
. Hamburg:
Argument Publishers.

2001. Perpetuating the Politics of Praise: Jeli praise singers, radios and political 
mediation in Mali. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag.

  • Articles (selection):

forthc. (a): "Healing our minds, healing our lands: conceptual reflections on mental health, spiritual well-being, and discursive constructions of climate change". To appear in: Mathias Becker (ed.): Resilience, collapse, and reorganization. Studying socio-ecological transformations in Africa´s savannahs.

forthc. (b): Schulz, Dorothea; Luig, Ute (eds.): Politics of Healing, Sufferance, and Mourning (in preparation for submission to Peter Lang Publishers)

forthc. (c): "Healing, not forgiving!’ Mental health and Muslims politics of remembrance in Southwestern Uganda". To appear in: Schulz, Dorothea; Luig, Ute (eds.): Politics of Healing, Sufferance, and Mourning.

n.d. "Mental health, psychiatric care, and Muslim practices of healing in Uganda" (article to be submitted to Transcultural Psychiatry

2016. Scholarship on Gender Politics in the Muslim World. Some Critical Reflections. In Léon Buskens and Annemarie van Sandwijk (ed.): Islamic Studies in the Twenty-first Century. Transformations and Continuities, pp. 109-133. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

2011. Mapping Cosmopolitan Identities: Rap Music and Male Youth Culture in Mali. In E. Charry (ed.): Hip Hop Africa: New African Music in a Globalizing World, pp. 129–146. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 

2011. Renewal and Enlightenment: Muslim Women’s Biographic Narratives of Personal Reform in Mali. In: Journal of Religion in Africa 41: 93-123.

2010. Remaking Society from Within: Extraversion and the Social Forms of Female Muslim Activism in Urban Mali. In: Bompani, Barbara, Frahm-Arp M. (eds.): Development and Politics from Below, Exploring Religious Spaces in the African State, pp. 74-96. London: Palgrave-Macmillan.

2007a. Competing sartorial assertions of feminity and Muslim identity in Mali. Fashion Theory 11 (2/3): 253-280.

2007b. Evoking moral community, fragmenting Muslim discourse: Sermon audio-recordings and the reconfiguration of public debate in MaliJournal for Islamic Studies 27: 39-72.

2007c. From a Glorious Past to the Lands of Origin: Media Consumption and Changing Narratives  of Cultural Belonging in Mali. In: Ferdinand de Jong and Michael Rolands (eds.). Reclaiming Heritage: Alternative Imaginaries of Memory in West Africa, pp. 185-213. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press. 

2006a. Mélodrames, desires et discussions. Mass-media et subjectivités dans le Mali urbain contemporain. In: Jean-François Werner (ed.): Médias visuels et femmes en Afrique de l'Ouest, pp. 109-144. Paris: l'Harmattan

2006b. Promises of (im)mediate salvation: Islam, broadcast media, and the remaking of religious experience in MaliAmerican Ethnologist 33 ( 2): 210-229.