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Danielle Boaz

Fellow  |  Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research, Harvard University  |  2019 - 2020

Danielle N. Boaz is an Assistant Professor of Africana Studies in the area of social justice, human rights, and the law at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Danielle has a Ph.D. in history with a specialization in Africa, the African Diaspora, and the Caribbean; a J.D. with a concentration in International Law; and a LL.M. in Intercultural Human Rights. She is also a licensed attorney in the State of Florida and the State of North Carolina.

Danielle’s research focuses on the relationship between race and religious freedom, with an emphasis on the historical and present day limitations on the right to practice African and African diaspora religions. She has published eleven articles and book chapters on this subject, exploring issues such as: the use of the term “voodoo” in U.S. court proceedings, the significance of ritual objects in the prosecution of Caribbean obeah cases, and police manipulation of Afro-Jamaican spiritual practices to obtain criminal confessions in Canada, among other things. Her first book manuscript, Banning Black Gods: African Diaspora Religions and the Law in the 21st Century, is currently under peer review.  

During the 2019-2020 academic year, Danielle will be working on her second book, Witchcraft, Obeah, and Vagrancy: Spiritual Practice and Colonial Law in Britain’s Atlantic Empire, 1830s-1960s. This project explores the boundaries of “legitimate” spiritual practices in the Anglophone Atlantic world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This book will investigate key legislative changes and judicial decisions in the colonial era that created significant disparities in the protection of European and African spiritual practices in the present day.