My research interests revolve around the relationship between social connections, interpersonal interactions, and group identities, and how they impact and are impacted by physical bodies. I have examined these relationships in regards to gender, religion and nationalism, and am now turning my interests to self-perceived health and well-being. I have conducted extensive ethnographic research in the Democratic Republic of Congo and amongst Liberian communities in the United States. My monograph, tentatively titled "Gesture and Power: Religion, Nationalism, and Everyday Performance in the Congo," blends history and ethnography to argue that everyday cultural performances in interpersonal encounters are crucial sites for staking political and religious claims for Kongo people. My current research examines the acculturation experiences of Liberian immigrants in the United States, and their effects on everyday performances, group identity formation, and self-perceived health.
Areas of Research
performance, identity, religion
Yolanda Covington-Ward. “Transforming Communities, Recreating Selves: Interconnected Diasporas and the Shaping of Liberian Immigrant Identity.” Africa Today. 60(1):28-53, 2013.
Yolanda Covington-Ward. Book Review of “The Predicament of Blackness.” Cultural Dynamics 25(3):334-338, 2013.
Yolanda Covington-Ward. “Fighting Phantoms: Mammy, Matriarch, and other Ghosts Haunting Black Mothers in the Academy,” In Laboring Positions: Black Women, Mothering, and the Academy, Sekile Johnson, Editor, Demeter Press, Pp. 236 – 256, 2013.
Yolanda Covington-Ward. “Vive l’ABAKO! Vive l’Independance! Joseph Kasa-Vubu, ABAKO, and Performances of Kongo Nationalism in the Congolese Independence Movement,” Journal of Black Studies Vol. 41, No. 1: 71-93, 2012.
Yolanda Covington-Ward, Siatta Dennis, Katie Reding, Anthony Simpson, and Megan Willison. “The Socio-Demographic Characteristics of Recent Liberian Immigrants to the United States: An Update” Liberian Studies Journal Vol. 36(1): 25-52, 2011.
Yolanda Covington-Ward. Book Review Essay: “Danced Nations, Performed Identities: Ethnographic Perspectives on Power and Performance in Africa.” Transforming Anthropology Vol. 18(2):207-210, 2010.
Yolanda Covington-Ward. “A Guide to Africanist Research in the Archive of the American Baptist Historical Society.” African Research and Documentation No. 111:21-29, 2009.
Yolanda Covington-Ward. Book Review of “White Men’s God.” Journal of Religion in Africa. Vol. 39, No. 4:462-464, 2009.
Yolanda Covington-Ward. Book Review of “Prayer has Spoiled Everything: Possession, Power, and Identity in an Islamic Town in Niger.” Transforming Anthropology Vol. 16, No. 1:83-84, 2008.
Yolanda Covington-Ward. “Threatening Gestures, Immoral Bodies: The Intersection of Church, State, and Kongo Performance in the Belgian Congo,” In Missions, States, and European Expansion in Africa. Chima Korieh and Raphael Njoku, eds. New York: Routledge Press. Pg 73-100, 2007.