Professor Marla Frederick is Professor of African and African American Studies and of the Study of Religion at Harvard University. A graduate of Spelman College with a BA in English, Professor Frederick earned her PhD in cultural anthropology at Duke University where she completed research on issues at the intersection of religion, race, class and gender. She continued her work as a post-doctoral fellow at Princeton University’s Center for the Study of Religion and at the Interdenominational Theological Center’s Office of Black Women in Church and Society.
Professor Frederick is the author of four books and several articles. Her first ethnography, Between Sundays: Black Women and Everyday Struggles of Faith (U. of California Press, 2003), is an ethnographic study of Baptist women’s social and political engagement in eastern North Carolina. In 2007 she co-authored a book entitled Local Democracy Under Siege: Activism, Public Interests and Private Politics, which won the Best Book Award for the Society for the Anthropology of North America. Her most recent book, Colored Television: American Religion Gone Global (Stanford University Press, 2016) explores the rise in African American and female televangelists and their influence outside of the United States. Her co-authored text, Televised Redemption: Black Religious Media and Racial Empowerment (NYU Press 2016), examines how black Christians, Muslims and Hebrew Israelites use media for the “redemption” of the race. Dr. Frederick’s ongoing research interests include the study of religion and media, religion and economics and the sustainability of black institutions in a ‘post-racial’ world.
Professor Frederick has served on a number of professional boards and committees and is invested in the development of the next generation of scholars. She has chaired the Study of Religion and currently works as director of graduate studies for the Department of African and African American Studies. In addition, she has served as President of the Association of Black Anthropologists and dedicated her time to numerous committees of the American Anthropological Association and the American Academy of Religion. In 2018/2019 she will co-lead a group of Harvard faculty with a 3-year grant from Harvard’s Weatherhead Center to study Religion and Public Life in Africa and the Diaspora.