University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Religion

Faculty - Vicki L. Brennan

Vicki Brennan

Vicki L. Brennan, Associate Professor, Director of African Studies Program

Area of expertise

Africa (Nigeria, Yoruba), music, ritual and performance, religion and media, anthropology of religion

Curriculum Vitae

Contact Information
Email: Vicki Brennan
Phone: (802) 656-3901

Office Hours: Wednesdays 12:00-2:00pm and by appointment

Office Location: 481 Main Street, Rm 101

Professor Brennan is a specialist on religions in Africa. She received her B.A. in Music from Syracuse University, her M.A. in Ethnomusicology from the University of Washington, and her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago. Her research focuses on the relationships between music, religion, and politics in contemporary Nigeria. She is currently working on a book project that details how Yoruba Christians use music to produce forms of community and identity that work to articulate and mediate religious values in relation to political-economic changes in Nigeria since 1999. She also has begun research on the relationships between commercially recorded gospel music, new media technologies, and religious publics in Nigeria.

“As an anthropologist I am especially interested in the ways in which religion constructs ideas of the social and enables practices of sociality. In my research I focus on expressive culture—such as music, dance, poetry, and visual art—in order to understand how ideas of morality, ethics and spirituality are made real in performance, represented aesthetically, and learned through means of embodiment. In my classes I challenge students to reexamine their assumptions about African peoples and African religions through the use of ethnographic studies in combination with music, film, art, and other media.”


Her publications include:

  • 2013. "Up Above the River Jordan": Hymns and Historical Consciousness in the Cherubim and Seraphim Churches of Nigeria. Studies in World Christianity 19 (1): 31-49
  • 2012. Take Control: The Labor of Immediacy in Yoruba Christian Music. Journal of Popular Music Studies 24 (4): 411-429.
  • 2012. “Truly we have a good heritage”: Musical Mediations in a Yoruba Christian Diaspora. Journal of Religion in Africa 42 (1): 3-25.
  • 2010. Mediating “The Voice of the Spirit”: Musical and Religious Transformations in Nigeria’s Oil Boom. American Ethnologist 37 (2): 354-370.