Wesleyan portrait of Elizabeth  McAlister

Elizabeth McAlister

Professor of Religion

171 Church Street,

Professor, African American Studies


Professor, American Studies


Professor, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


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BA Vassar College
MA Yale University
MA Yale University
MPHIL Yale University
PHD Yale University

Elizabeth McAlister

Elizabeth McAlister's research focuses on Afro-Caribbean religions including Haitian Vodou, race theory, transnational migration, pentecostalism, and spiritual warfare. In recent years McAlister has written on aggressive forms of prayer, zombies in pop culture, Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, and Haitian national elections. She has been interviewed in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, The New Yorker, Newsweek, public radio's "Fresh Air," and consulted for PBS, The Learning Channel and Afropop Worldwide on Public Radio International.

She is the author of Rara! Vodou, Power and Performance in Haiti and its Diaspora (University of California Press, 2002), which is an analysis of this parading musical festival as both religious and political. Her second book is a volume co-edited with Henry Goldschmidt that theorizes race and religion as linked constructs: Race, Nation, and Religion in the Americas (Oxford University Press, 2004). Her present research focuses on the evangelical spiritual warfare movement and American missionary activity in Haiti. Her publications can be found at http://emcalister.faculty.wesleyan.edu/publications-3/

McAlister has also produced three compilations of Afro-Haitian religious music: Rhythms of Rapture (Smithsonian Folkways, 1995), Angels in the Mirror, and the CD Rara that accompanies her first book.

In her efforts to make Afro-Caribbean religions and music better understood by the American public, McAlister has written for Newsweek and CNN, been interviewed by Terri Gross on “Fresh Air,” was profiled in the New York Times, and consulted for projects such as “Africans in America” for PBS, the Learning Channel, and for Afropop Worldwide on Public Radio International. She has also served as an expert witness in legal cases concerning Afro-Caribbean religions.


McAlister earned her PhD in American Studies from Yale University as well as master's degrees in History and African and Afro-American Studies. Her undergraduate degree is in Anthropology from Vassar College.

 You can find most of McAlister's publications, interviews, and radio interviews at


Academic Affiliations

Office Hours

FALL 2023: Tuesdays 2:00-4:00 p.m. and by appointment



Spring 2024
RELI 115F - 01
TheorizingReli w/ Zombies(FYS)

RELI 226 - 01
American Christianities

RELI 264 - 01
Theorizing Religion w/ Zombies

Fall 2024
RELI 151 - 01
Introduction to Religion