Beth Buggenhagen

Beth Buggenhagen

Associate Professor, Anthropology

Director, African Studies Program

Associate Editor, Africa Today


  • Ph.D., Sociocultural Anthropology, University of Chicago, 2003
  • B.A., Afroamerican & African Studies and Political Science, University of Michigan, 1993

Geographical areas of specialization
Africa; North America; Senegal

Research Interests
circulation and value; material and visual culture; photography; gender and Islam

About Beth Buggenhagen

Beth Buggenhagen writes about visual culture, value, gender, and Islam in contemporary West Africa. Her scholarly work emerges from her long-term ethnographic research in Senegal since the early 1990s. She has traced the global trade networks of Senegalese Muslims by focusing on the transmission of enduring social value through gifts of cloth in family ceremonies and religious offerings to Muslim clergy. She is the author of Muslim Families in Global Senegal, published by Indiana University Press (2012), an open access edited volume with Anne Maria Makhulu and Stephen Jackson, Hard Work, Hard Times. Global Volatility and African Subjectivities, published by the University of California Press (2010), and numerous journal articles. Her work was awarded a research grant from the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research and a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend.

Combining research on photography’s past in Senegal and contemporary lens based artists who are pushing the parameters of portraiture in exciting new directions, Beth Buggenhagen is currently working on a book, The Future is in Your Hands: Portraiture from Senegal. Based on museum, ethnographic, and archival research, The Future is in Your Hands engages the practices, discourses, and concerns of contemporary visual artists based in Senegal addressing themes of separation, visibility, rupture, and repatriation through portraiture. The book pursues an expansive frame for photography moving from the visual to the visceral showing how women and men fashion idealized images to mend fraught and fragmented lives. What are the cultural politics of posing for and displaying portraits, keeping albums, viewing magazines, and creating contemporary visual art? Lens based artists are like family archivists—knitting family stories with the pairings and sequences in albums, fictions and omissions.


Graduate Courses
  • E613 Global Africa
  • E600 Blood, Money, Value
Undergraduate Courses
  • ANTH E300 Islam in & out of Africa
  • ANTH E300 Photography & Ethnography
  • ANTH E400 Fashion, Beauty, Power
  • ANTH E413 Global Africa

Selected Publications


Nd. Buggenhagen, Beth. The Future is in Your Hands: Portrait Photography from Senegal. Manuscript in preparation.

2012. Buggenhagen, Beth. Muslim Families in Global Senegal. Money Takes Care of Shame. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

2010. Anne-Maria B. Makhulu, Beth Buggenhagen, and Stephen Jackson, eds. Hard Work, Hard Times: Global Volatilities and African Subjectivities. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Articles and Chapters

2022. Buggenhagen, Beth. “Fabric in the Fashion Photography of Omar Victor Diop.” In, Creating African Fashion Histories: Politics, Museums, and Sartorial Practice. JoAnn McGregor, Heather Akou, and Nicola Stylianou, eds. In production.

2019. Buggenhagen, Beth. “Forum: Author Meets Critics. Joanna Grabski’s ‘Art World City.’” Africa Today 64 (4).

2018. Buggenhagen, Beth. "Ibrahim Thiam." In The View From Here. Dak'Art Biennial of Contemporary African Art, May 2018. Dakar, Senegal.

2017. Buggenhagen, Beth. African Artistic Practices and Discourses in and out of Sweden. A Conversation with Ethnomusicologist Ryan T. Skinner. Africa Today, 64 (2):92-107.

2017. Buggenhagen, Beth. If You Were in My Sneakers: Migration Stories in the Studio Photography of Dakar based Omar Victor Diop. Visual Anthropology Review 33 (1): 38-50.

2017. Buggenhagen, Beth. Area Studies and the Challenges of Creating a Space for Public Debate. Africa Today 63 (2): 82-87.

2016. Buggenhagen, Beth. Dak’Art 11th Biennale of Contemporary African Art (review). African Arts 49 (1): 82-85.

2014. Buggenhagen, Beth. A Snapshot of Happiness: Photo Albums, Respectability, and Economic Uncertainty in Dakar. Africa 84 (1): 78-100.

2013. Buggenhagen, Beth. Islam’s New Visibility and the Secular Public in Senegal. In, Tolerance, Democracy and Sufis in Senegal. Mamadou Diouf, ed. Pp. 51-72. New York: Columbia University Press.

2013. Buggenhagen, Beth. What the General of Amadou Bamba Saw in New York City: Gendered Displays of Devotion among Migrants of the Senegalese Murid Tariqa. In, African Migrations: Patterns and Perspectives. Abdoulaye Kane and Todd Leedy, eds. Pp. 248-269. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.    

2012. Buggenhagen, Beth. Fashioning Piety: Dress, Money, and Faith among Senegalese Muslims in Post 9/11 New York City. Special Issue, Muslim Cosmopolitans, Dorothea Schulz and Mara Leichtman, eds. City and Society. 24 (1): 82-102.

2011. Are Births Just “Women’s Business?” Gift Exchange, Value, and Global Volatility in Muslim Senegal. American Ethnologist 38 (4):714-732.

2010. Buggenhagen, Beth. Islam and the Media of Devotion in and out of Senegal. Visual Anthropology Review 26 (2):81-95.

2010. Buggenhagen, Beth Killer Bargain: The Global Networks of Senegalese Muslims and Policing Unofficial Economies in the War on Terror. In, Hard Work, Hard Times: Global Volatilities and African Subjectivities. Anne-Maria B. Makhulu, Beth A. Buggenhagen, and Stephen Jackson, eds. Pp. 130-149. Berkeley: University of California Press.

2008. Buggenhagen, Beth. Beyond Brotherhood: Gender, Religious Authority and the Global Circuits of Senegalese Muridiyya. In New Perspectives on Islam in Senegal: Conversion, Migration, Wealth, Power and Femininity. Mamadou Diouf and Mara A. Leichtman, eds. Pp. 189-210. Palgrave Press.

2004. Buggenhagen, Beth. Domestic Object(ion)s: The Senegalese Murid Trade Diaspora and the Politics of Marriage Payments, Love, and State Privatization. InProducing African Futures: Ritual and Reproduction in a Neoliberal Age. Brad Weiss, ed., Pp. 21-53. Leiden: Brill Academic Press.

See also Indiana University Scholarworks: