Devir photo
  • Associate Professor, World Languages and Cultures
801-585-3000

Biography

Personal Statement:

I am an interdisciplinary scholar of religion and culture with a focus on ethnographic, qualitative research that bridges the humanistic, social, and applied sciences.

At the University of Utah, where I have taught since 2011, I am an Associate Professor of Religious Studies in the Department of World Languages and Cultures. I directed the university’s Middle East Center and Middle East Studies Program from 2015-2020, and served as Interim Director of the Religious Studies Program from 2017-2018. Currently, I serve as Director of Graduate Studies in my department, as well as the faculty liaison for the university’s collaborative exchange agreement with the Center for the Study of Applied Medical Anthropology at the University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin.

Prior professional experience includes employment as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Middlebury College (2008-2011), military service as an officer in the Education Corps (also known as the “Chairborne Division”) (2000-2004), and short-term consultancies for various think tanks, policy centers, governmental and non-governmental organizations, police investigative units, and educational foundations.

I have published a number of studies on notions of religious belonging (especially in Sub-Saharan African settings) and their linkages to ethnic, racial, social, and political concerns. A list of selected publications on those topics can be found under the “Research” tab on this webpage.

My current long-term project is an examination of the intersections of spiritual and psychotherapeutic healing practices in West Africa, in both private and state-sponsored contexts.

My work has been recognized and funded by a variety of sources, including the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa, the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, the Earhart Foundation, the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Institutes of Health, the Posen Foundation, the Reed Foundation, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, among others.

Outside of my United States-based activities, I have studied and/or held fellowships in Benin, France, Germany, India, Israel, Morocco, and the United Kingdom. Primary sites of fieldwork include (in addition to the countries cited above) Gabon, Ghana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, and Senegal.

Education:

B.A. University of Haifa

Ph.D. The Pennsylvania State University

Additional Training and Certifications:

The University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine

The Cephawa Center for the Study of Beninese Psychiatry and Traditional Medicine

Fields of Interest:

African Studies

Cross-Cultural Psychotherapy

Ethnography

Global Health

Medical Anthropology

Medical Humanities

Religious Studies