Sonya Maria Johnson Photo

Sonya Maria Johnson
Michigan State University


Sonya Maria Johnson, Ph.D., holds a Dual Major Ph.D. in Socio-Cultural Anthropology and African American & African Studies from Michigan State University. She is the Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Professor of Religious Studies in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Beloit College. Johnson’s current research and writing address how practitioners of Palo Monte/Mayombe in eastern Cuba maintain their “African” identity through enduring engagement with the local environment as a way to engage ancestral spirits from Cuba’s colonial past. She integrates the significance of contemporary ritual realities into theoretical discourses about knowledge production within the “Black Atlantic.” Johnson has published and presented on this work at the Annual Meetings of the American Academy of Religion, the American Anthropological Association, the Bi-Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD), the Transatlantic Roundtable on Race and Religion, the International Sociological Association’s Religious Roundtables, and at the 9th annual Women of the Mediterranean conference in Morocco. Johnson is a 2018-2019 fellow of the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religious Studies. Sonya served as co-chair for the Program Committee for the 2017 Biennial ASWAD meeting in Sevilla, Spain. She received the Inaugural Presidential Award for Outstanding and Dedicated Service for ASWAD that same year.


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