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Marla F. Frederick
Professor of African and African American Studies and Professor of Religion
Chair of the Committee on the Study of Religion 2011-2012 (on leave 2012-13)
African and African American Studies
12 Quincy St. Barker CenterCambridge, MA 02138
Marla Frederick is Professor of African and African American Studies and the Study of Religion. She is the author of Between Sundays: Black Women and Everyday Struggles of Faith, a richly detailed ethnography exploring the complex lives and faith commitments of women in rural North Carolina. Her co-authored book, Local Democracy Under Siege: Activism, Public Interests and Private Politics, won the 2008 Best Book Award from the Society for the Anthropology of North America.
Frederick’s research interests include questions emerging from the intersections of religion, race, gender, media, politics and economics. She is currently completing an ethnography entitled, "Colored Television: Religion, Media and Racial Uplift in the Black Atlantic World." This work teases out a triangulated approach to understanding how African American and African descended producers, distributors and consumers of religious broadcasting approach and make meaning of mediated religion. It addresses concerns related to the rise of prosperity ministries in poor communities as well as the dramatic rise of African American religious broadcasters on television. She is also co-authoring a manuscript with anthropologists John Jackson and Carolyn Rouse, entitled "Televised Redemption," which examines how Black Muslims, Christians and Hebrew Israelites make use of media in the strategic deployment of their racial, economic and religious views of social uplift.
Frederick earned her Bachelors of Arts degree from Spelman College and her PhD in cultural anthropology from Duke University. She has served as a post-doctoral fellow at Princeton’s Center for the Study of Religion, a visiting scholar at the Interdenominational Theological Center and a fellow at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Milton Fund and the Louisville Institute.