John Schaefer

John Schaefer

Associate Professor

219 Levey Hall


  • Ph.D., Anthropology (Folklore and Public Culture), University of Texas at Austin
  • M.A., Anthropology (Cultural Anthropology), University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
  • B.A., English, John Brown University, Siloam Springs, Arkansas

Recent Courses Taught

  • ATH 175: Peoples of the World
  • ATH 231: Foundations of Cultural Anthropology
  • ATH 307: The Middle East: Anthropological Perspectives
  • ATH 358: Travelers, Migrants, and Refugees

Research Interests

I was born in Accra, Ghana, in 1974 and lived in northern Ghana until 1991. Since 1997 my primary research area has been the Arab Middle East, in particular Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Morocco. My primarily interests are in musical roots and routes across the Sahara Desert and to America. I am currently completing a book‐length manuscript with the tentative title of The Black Sahara: Gnawa Identity and Spiritual Work in Morocco. The book derives from fieldwork conducted between 2001 and 2010 among Gnawa musicians in Morocco, who practice spirit possession and conduct trance healing rituals. I have also published and presented more broadly on such topics such as activism in Cairo's Tahrir Square, Moroccan protest music, psychedelic trance festivals, interactional analysis of music, and the use of the Internet in Ghana. My future plans concern refugee resettlement in Southwest Ohio. Prior to completing my dissertation, I taught at Ashland University and the College of Wooster (both in Ohio); Hartwick College (New York); and Wake Forest University (North Carolina). Between 2009 and 2012, I was an assistant professor of anthropology at the American University in Cairo.


Peer Reviewed Journal Articles:

2017, "Frontstage Backstage: Participatory Music and the Festive Sacred in Essaouira, Morocco." Western Folklore 76(1): 69-99.

2016, "Discrete/Discreet Appropriation: Paul Bowles, Non-Western Music, and Race in Tangier." Journal of North African Studies 21(4):1-29.

2016, "Observations on Gnawa Healing in Morocco: Music, Bodies and the Circuit of Capital." Performing Islam 4(2): 173-182.

2012, "Protest Song Marocaine." Middle East Report 263:20-32.

Book Chapters:

2015, "Middle Eastern Music and Popular Culture." In Soraya Altorki, Ed., Companion to the Anthropology of the Middle East. London: Wiley-Blackwell. Pp. 495-507.

2006, "Discussion Lists and Public Policy on iGhana: Chimps and Feral Activists." In Kyra Lanzelius, Ed., Native on the Net: Indigenous and Diasporic Peoples in the Virtual Age. London: Routledge.


2005, "Rhythms of Power: Interaction in Musical Performance." Texas Linguistic Forum 48:167-176.

Professional Service

Guest Reviewer

  • Brussels Studies: the e-journal for academic research on Brussels
  • Brill Publishers (Leiden)
  • Globalizations (London)
  • ALIF: Journal of Comparative Poetics (Cairo)
  • Contemporary Islam (Dordrecht)
  • Text, Practice, Performance (Austin, Texas)

National Office

Middle East Section of the American Anthropological Association: Secretary (2017-present), Nominating Committee (2015), Webmaster (2014-present)