Heather M. Shirey portrait

Heather M. Shirey

Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies
B.A., University of Iowa
M.A., Tulane University
Ph.D., Indiana University
44 N. Cleveland Ave.
(651) 962-5572
Toll Free
(800) 328-6819, Ext. 2-5572

Specialization: Africa and the African Diaspora

Heather Shirey's primary area of research is in Brazil, with a specific focus on art, politics and identity construction in the African-Brazilian religion Candomblé. Her current research projects involve a comparative study of the position of material culture in identity politics and spiritual practices in Africa and the African Diaspora.

Recent Publications

[Review of Capone, Stefania. Searching for Africa in Brazil: Power and Tradition in Candomblé.] H-AfrArts, H-Net Reviews.March 2013. URL: https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=33075

“Constructing Meaning: Candomblé Beads and Identity in Salvador da Bahia Brazil.”  (Nova Religio, volume 16.1, August 2012). http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/nr.2012.16.issue-1

“Meticulous Production and the Embodiment of History: María Magdalena Campos-Pon’s My Mother Told Me I Am Chinese Series,” in Vanessa K. Valdés, ed. The Future is Now: A New Look at African Diaspora Studies. (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012).

“Ancestry, Art and Commodity: María Magdalena Campos-Pons’s My Mother Told Me I Am Chinese series,” Conference Proceedings from “Let Spirit Speak! Cultural Journeys through the African Diaspora.” (SUNY Press, 2012). http://muse.jhu.edu/books/9781438442198/

“María Magdalena Campos-Pons: New Investigations into Diasporic Identity and History, Review of Life Has Not Even Begun, new work by María Magdalena Campos-Pons at Glass Curtain Gallery, Columbia College, Chicago, January 26-March 6 2009.” African Arts. 43:4 (Winter 2010), 84-86.

[Review of Beatriz Góis Dantas, Nagô Grandma and White Papa: Candomblé and the Creation of Afro-Brazilian Identity]. Journal of Folklore Research Reviews, http://www.indiana.edu/~jofr/review.php?id=990, May 18, 2010.

 “Transforming the Orixás: Candomblé in Sacred and Secular Spaces in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil” African Arts. 42:2, Winter 2009, 62-79. http://www.mitpressjournals.org/toc/afar/42/4

 “Dialogue Essay: Dreams of Home in Expanding Diasporas,” African Arts. 42:2 (Summer 2009), 7-11.

[Review of Beautiful/Ugly:  African and Diaspora Aesthetics]. H-AfrArts, H-Net Reviews. December 2008.

[Review of Santería Enthroned: Art, Ritual, and Innovation in an Afro-Cuban Religion by David H. Brown and The Yoruba Diaspora in the Atlantic World edited by Toyin Faloloa and Matt D. Childs]. African Arts, (Winter 2007), 93-95. 

Recent research presentations

African Studies Association Annual Conference, “Exhibiting Benin Court Art in London: Three Case Studies,” Paper presentation, Baltimore, November 2013.

International American StudiesAssociation Conference, “Pierre Verger’s Candomblé Imagery in A Cigarra,” Paper presentation, Rio de Janeiro, July 2011.

Arts Council of the African Studies Association Triennial Symposium, “Pierre Verger and the Creation of Candomblé Nagô’s Canonical Imagery,” Paper presentation, Los Angeles, March 2011.

Cultural Journeys through the African Diaspora Conferenceat The City College of New York, “Ancestry, Art and Commodity: María Magdalena Campos-Pons’s My Mother Told Me I Am Chinese series,” Paper presentation, New York City, April 22-24, 2010.

College Art Association Annual Conference, “Defining the Diaspora; Appropriating Public Spaces in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil,” Paper presentation and Panel Co-Chair, Dallas, February 2008.

International Conference on Afro-Hispanic Studies, “Understanding Religious Juxtapositions Through Material Culture: Candomblé, Santería and Vodou Altars in a Cross-Cultural Perspective,” Paper presentation, Accra, Ghana, August 2007.

Arts Council of the African Studies Association 14th Triennial Conference, “(Re)Claiming Africa in the Diaspora,” Chair and discussant, Gainesville, March 2007.

Recent grants and awards 

University of St. Thomas Faculty Development Center, Level 1 Research Grant. “Pierre Verger, Carybé and the Creation of Candomblé's Iconic Imagery in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil,” for research in Brazil in January 2013.

University of St. Thomas Graduate Research Team Project. “Art, Political Memory, and Identity in London’s Nigerian Diaspora: Yinka Shonibare, Sokari Douglas-Camp, and Emamoke Ukeleghe,” with Sarah Munster-Blakley and Natalie McMonagle, summer 2012.

Research Assistance Grant, awarded by the University of St. Thomas Faculty Development Center for research in Brazil in January 2008

The Textile Society of America Fellowship for Young Professionals, awarded for travel and research in Ghana in January 2005

Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship, awarded for dissertation research in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, December 2000-December 2001


Courses taught

Undergraduate: Introduction to Art History; Arts of the African Diaspora; Arts of Africa; Modern Mexican Art.

Graduate seminars: African American Art; Methodology; African Art in Transition; Diapora: Continuity and Change; Adornnment and Identity in African Art; Colonial/Post-Colonial Art


Summer 2015 Courses

Summer 2015 Courses
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Fall 2015 Courses

Fall 2015 Courses
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J-Term 2016 Courses

J-Term 2016 Courses
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Undergraduate Admissions

Graduate Admissions

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