Brendan Jamal Thornton

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Brendan Jamal Thornton

Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies


Ph.D., University of California, San Diego, 2011 (Anthropology)

Research Interests

  • Caribbean and Latin America
  • Anthropology of Christianity
  • Religions of the African Diaspora / Black Atlantic
  • Comparative Caribbean Ethnology
  • Gender and Masculinity

Professional Biography

Brendan Jamal Thornton, Ph.D. is a cultural anthropologist and specialist on religion and culture in the Caribbean. His research and scholarship are interdisciplinary in scope and have been published in what are generally considered to be the top journals in the fields of anthropology, religious studies, and Latin American studies, including, Anthropological Quarterly, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and Latin American Research Review. His first book, Negotiating Respect: Pentecostalism, Masculinity, and the Politics of Spiritual Authority in the Dominican Republic (University Press of Florida 2016) was awarded the 2017 Barbara T. Christian Literary Award for the best book in the humanities by the international Caribbean Studies Association.

His current book project looks to trouble the taken-for-granted correspondences between race, religion, and cosmology by exploring their disjunctures and novel articulations in the context of Spiritual Baptist Christianity, an important but understudied Afro-Caribbean religious tradition in Trinidad and Tobago. In addition to engaging important and enduring disciplinary concerns about religious and cultural difference, this project situates itself within existing scholarship on religion in the African diaspora, identity politics, and the anthropology of religion.

Courses Recently Taught

  • RELI 140        Religion in America
  • RELI 141        African American Religions
  • RELI 246        Supernatural Encounters: Zombies, Vampires,
    ….._……………….Demons and the Occult in the Americas
  • RELI 247        Uncertain Truths: Conspiracy Theories, Aliens,
    ….._……………….and Secret Societies in America
  • RELI 322        Theories of Religion
  • RELI 352        Anthropology of Christianity
  • RELI 427        Spirit Possession and Mediumship
  • RELI 526        Dimensions of Evil
  • RELI 700        Theory and Method in the Study of Religion
  • RELI 721        Christianity and Cultural Change

Publication Highlights


Negotiating Respect: Pentecostalism, Masculinity, and the Politics of Spiritual Authority in the Dominican Republic. Gainesville: University Press of Florida (2016)

Winner of the 2017 Barbara Christian Prize for the BEST book in the Humanities

For reviews click here and here

Special Issues

Critical Terms for the Ethnography of Religion,” Fieldwork in Religion 17(1): 5-12, 2022

New Directions in the Anthropology of Religion and Gender: Faith and Emergent Masculinities,” Anthropological Quarterly 91(1): 5-24, 2018


 Fieldwork: Time, Fidelity and the Ethnographic Method in Religious Studies,” Fieldwork in Religion 17(1): 13-25, 2022

Refiguring Christianity and Black Atlantic Religion: Representation, Essentialism, and Christian Variation in the Southern Caribbean,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 89(1): 41-71, 2021

Caribbean Exceptions: The Problem of Race and Nation in Dominican Studies,” Latin American Research Review 54(2): 413-428, 2019

Victims of Illicit Desire: Pentecostal Men of God and the Specter of Sexual Temptation,” Anthropological Quarterly 91(1): 133-172, 2018

Ties that Bind: Pentecostal Churches, Youth Gangs, and the Management of Everyday Life in the Urban Barrio,” Religion 48(4): 616-641, 2018

Changing Landscapes of Faith: Latin American Religions in the Twenty-First Century,” Latin American Research Review 53(4): 857–862, 2018

Book Chapters

Mapping the Spiritual Baptist Universe: Black Atlantic Cosmography and the Spatiality of Spirit in Trinidad and Tobago,” Oxford Handbook of Religious Space, edited by Jeanne Halgren Kilde, pp. 308-324. New York: Oxford University Press, 2022

Conjugal Conundrums: Conversion and Marriage Delay in the Contemporary Caribbean,” Waithood: Gender, Education, and Global Delays in Marriage, edited by Marcia Inhorn and Nancy Smith-Hefner. New York: Berghahn Books, 2020

Residual Masculinity and the Cultivation of Negative-Charisma in a Caribbean Pentecostal Community,” The Anthropology of Religious Charisma: Ecstasies and Institutions, edited by Charles Lindholm, pp. 117-143. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013