• Misty Bastian
Lewis Audenreid Professor of History and Archaeology, Chair of Anthropology


I spent most of my academic career before F&M at the University of Chicago, taking the AB in 1983 (in Anthropology with General Honors, Phi Beta Kappa), the AM in 1985 and the PhD in 1992. My predissertation work was supported by an NSF graduate fellowship, my field studies in Nigeria were supported by an IIE Fulbright, and my dissertation writing was funded by a generous Charlotte W. Newcombe Fellowship. l also received two postgraduate positions -- as a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study & Research in the African Humanities (Northwestern University) and as a Junior Academy Scholar at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies  -- and taught for a year as Visiting Assistant Professor in Tufts University's Department of Sociology & Anthropology. I am a member of a number of academic associations, including the American Anthropological Association and the African Studies Association. During academic year 1998-99 I was a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Center for the Study of World Religions, partially funded by an AAUW American Fellowship.


During fifteen months in 1987-88,1 worked in a major West African urban center, Onitsha, Nigeria. Onitsha, which has a population well over a quarter of a million people, is known as a "market town." This is a term that hardly does justice to the city's extremely entrepreneurial nature: after working there, l often note that every compound contains its unofficial trade and every street corner has its own vendors. My dissertation research was on how Onitsha people make meaning out of their experience of the market system; the dissertation itself is called "The World as Marketplace: Historical, Cosmological and Popular Constructions of the Onitsha Market System." (One perennial project is to transform the dissertation into an academic monograph.)

I am, perhaps, best known as a chronicler of the lively Nigerian popular press. (See bibliography below.) I have also done work on the 1929 Igbo Women's War, dress, adornment and other popular media, as well as on the peripatetic African mermaid spirit, Mami Wata. Over the past several years I have been pursuing an interest in Nigerian immigration to the west and have engaged in something still rather new for anthropologists, "cyberethnography." Having followed my Nigerian friends back to the United States, l also followed them onto the internet and World Wide Web -- where they are developing a very interesting presence as "Naijas," or virtual Nigerians. I have recently worked on a project that had to do with what I'm calling the "regendering" of Onitsha through missionization and colonialization from the mid-1800s to 1930. Work is also proceeding on a social history of the 1929 Women's War in southeastern Nigeria, a text I'm writing with two historians of Britian, Susan Kent and Marc Matera. If it proves feasible, my next research project will be on Marian apparitions and charismatic Catholicism in early 21st Century Nigeria.

Click here to see Professor Bastian's CV.


Great Ideas for Teaching About Africa. Edited, with Jane L. Parpart. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publications, 1999. **A Choice Outstanding Title for 1999**

"'Diabolical Realities': Narratives of Conspiracy, Transparency and 'Ritual Murder' in the Nigerian Popular Print and Electronic Media." In Transparency and Conspiracy: Ethnographies of Suspicion in the New World Order, edited by Harry G. West and Todd Sanders. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003.

"'The Daughter She Will Eat Agousie in the World of the Spirits': Confessions of a Witch in Missionized Onitsha, 1890." Africa 72, 1 (2002): 112-130.

"'Vultures of the Marketplace': Igbo and Other Southeastern Nigerian Women's Discourse about the Ogu Umunwaanyi (Women's War) of 1929." In Women and African Colonial History, edited by Jean Allman, Susan Geiger and Nakanyike Musisi. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2002.

"Irregular Visitors: Narratives about Ogbaanje (Spirit Children) in Nigerian Popular Writing." In Readings in African Popular Fiction, edited by Stephanie Newell. London: IAI/James Currey and Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2002.

"Vulture Men, Campus Cultists and Teenaged Witches: Modern Magics in the Nigerian Popular Press." In Magical Interpretations, Material Realities: Modernity, Witchcraft and the Occult in Postcolonial Africa, edited by Henrietta L. Moore and Todd Sanders. London: Routledge, 2001.

"Acadas and Fertilizer Girls: Young Nigerian Women and the Romance of Middle Class Modernity." In Gendered Modernities: Ethnographic Perspectives, edited by Dorothy L. Hodgson. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2001.

"'The Demon Superstition': Abominable Twins and Mission Culture in Onitsha History." Part of a special issue of Ethnology on "Re-Viewing Twinship in Africa," co-edited with Elisha P. Renne. Ethnology 40, 1 (Winter 2001): 13-27.

"Introduction: Re-viewing Twinship in Africa." Ethnology 40, 1 (Winter 2001): 1-11, co-written with Elisha P. Renne.

"Dancing Women and Colonial Men: The Nwaobiala of 1925. In "Wicked" Women and the Reconfiguration of Gender in Africa, edited by Dorothy L. Hodgson and Sheryl McCurdy. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Educational Publishers, 2001.

"Young Converts: Christian Missions, Gender and Youth in Onitsha, Nigeria 1880-1929." Anthropological Quarterly 73, 3 (2000): 145-58.

"Buchi Emecheta's The Joys of Motherhood." In African Novels in the Classroom, edited by Margaret Jean Hay. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publications, 2000.

"'Buried Under Six Feet of Crude Oil': State-Sponsored Death and the Missing Body of Ken Saro-Wiwa." In Ken Saro-Wiwa: Writer and Political Activist, edited by Craig W. McLuckie and Aubrey McPhail. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publications, 2000.

"Nationalism in a Virtual Space: Immigrant Nigerians on the Internet." West Africa Review 1,1 (1999). http://www.africaresource.com/war/bastian.html.

"Fires, Tricksters and Poisoned Medicines: Popular Cultures of Rumor in Onitsha, Nigeria and Its Markets." Etnofoor XI/2 (1998): 111-32.

"Mami Wata, Mr. White and the Sirens Off Bar Beach: Spirits and Dangerous Consumption in the Nigerian Popular Press." In Afrika und das Andere--Alteritaet und Innovation (Africa and the Other--Alternity and Innovation), Schriften der VAD, Band 17, edited by Heike Schmidt and Albert Wirz. Muenster and Hamburg: Lit Verlag, 1998.

"Married in the Water: Spirit Kin and Other Afflictions of Modernity." The Journal of Religion in Africa XXVI (1996): 1-19.

"Female 'Alhajis' and Entrepreneurial Fashions: Flexible Identities in Southeastern Nigerian Clothing Practice." In Clothing and Difference: Embodied Identities in Colonial and Post-Colonial Africa, edited by Hildi Hendrickson. Duke University Press, 1996.

"'Bloodhounds Who Have No Friends': Witchcraft, Locality, and the Popular Press in Nigeria." In Modernity and its Malcontents: Ritual and Power in Africa, edited by Jean and John L. Comaroff, University of Chicago Press, 1993.

"Continuities and Reconstruction in Cross-Cultural Transmission: The Case of the Nigerian Popular Romance," with Professor Wendy Griswold, University of Chicago. Poetics, the Netherlands (Autumn 1987).

The World as Marketplace. [Ethnographic monograph being revised for Duke University Press; based on my dissertation work.]

"A Tale of Two Visionaries: Father Edeh, Sister Kate and Visions of the Everyday in Southeastern Nigeria." In Religious Modernities in West Africa: New Moralities in Colonial and Post-Colonial Societies, edited by Rijk van Dijk and John Hanson. Book contract with Indiana University Press; forthcoming 2005.

"The Naked and the Nude: Historically Multiple Meanings of Oto (Undress) in Southeastern Nigeria." In Dirt, Undress, and Difference, edited by Adeline Masquelier. Book contract with Indiana University Press; forthcoming 2005.

"'Terror Against Terror': 9/11 or 'Kano War' in the Nigerian Press?" In Terror and Violence: Imagination and the Unimaginable, edited by Pamela J. Stewart, Andrew Strathern and Neil Whitehead. Book contract with Pluto Press; forthcoming 2005.

* I also have an article under revision for Cultural Anthropology. Articles on the southern Nigerian women's protests against ChevronTexaco in 2002, Pentecostal Christian pamphlet literature in Nigeria, as well as a piece on twinship in the television program Buffy the Vampire Slayer are in the works.

Course Information

ANT 100 "Introduction to Social Anthropology"

ANT 215 "Women in Society"

ANT 267 "Peoples and Cultures--Africa"

ANT 250 "Witchcraft and Sorcery in a Global Context"

ANT 330 "Anthropological Studies of Religion"

ANT 335 "Classics of Ethnographic Literature"

ANT 355 "The Body"

ANT 410 "Anthropological Methods"

FND 110 "Modernity"

FND 180 "Antiquity"

I have also taught an upper-level seminar on "Popular Culture in Africa and the Diaspora" as well as a First Year Seminar with Professor Michael Flower of Classics called "Magic, Sex and Memory in Africa and Ancient Greece." In Fall of 2004, I am teaching a new First Year Seminar called "Invisible Worlds." This course has to do with how North Americans and Europeans use stories about ghosts and fairies (including mermaids) to talk about important topics like landscape, memory, gender and sexualities. In upcoming years I hope to teach topics courses on global popular cultures, advertising, youth and childhood, contemporary ethnographies, immigration and transnationalism, and the anthropology of performance and aesthetics.