Laurian Bowles Headshot

feminist. anthropologist. creative. teacher.

I am a cultural anthropologist who researches, writes and teaches about social mobility, sensory politics, and the visual economies of women’s labor in Africa and the Diaspora. As a critically engaged scholar with 20 years of fieldwork in Ghana, I attend to the way women’s activism take shape through quotidian forms of mobilization and refusals in public and intimate spaces. I am especially interested in the haptic nature of photographs, the circulation of pictures as material artifacts, and the way blackness, class politics, and queerness are formed through visual storytelling.

“Walk in the world with your whole self.

-Dr. Laurian R. Bowles

With support as a Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellow, Leeway Grant recipient, and former Dissertation Fellow at Western Illinois University, I have published in Visual Anthropology Review, Kalfou, and African Arts, as well as presented papers and lectures in Ghana, The Netherlands, the UK, and the US. I also maintain a scholastic and artistic interest in the photographic narratives of women’s leisure and the sensory politics of feminist praxis. Through Envision Imprint, I also engage in a series of conversations about activism, anthropology, and art with my long-term collaborator, Beth Uzwiak.

A born and bred Philly jawn & Girls’ High girl, my love of stories is shaped by my non-academic work as a queer youth counselor in rural Pennsylvania, a West Philly bartender, film production assistant and an A&R intern for a record label in London. 

I am currently an Associate Professor and Chair of Anthropology at Davidson College and an affiliated faculty member in the Africana Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies departments. I am also the Director of the Davidson in Ghana study abroad program.