I am an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Utah. I completed a PhD in African History at Stanford University (2012) and a BA in History at Duke University (2005).
At the broadest level, my research asks how religious belief shaped communities, lived and imagined, in Africa and the African Diaspora. My first book-length project is a study of one of the largest and oldest prophetic religious communities in southern Africa. (This church has many names in English and Zulu, including the Nazareth Baptist Church, AmaNazaretha, KwaShembe, the Nazarites, and the Shembe-ites.) My approach steers away from long-standing debates in the history of religion about what constitutes politics in order to ask a simpler, but important question: How did Africans attempt to make their lives better amid the dramatic changes of the twentieth century? The history of the church illuminates the changing ideas, projects, and conflicts that captured the attention of average people as the twentieth century unfolded.
I am also in the very early stages of research for another book-length project, which grapples with the ways that intellectuals in the African Diaspora used the Bible to conceptualize the meaning of race.
My work has been generously funded by a Fulbright-Hays DDRA Grant and a Mellon-ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship as well as grants from Stanford University and the University of Utah.
To contact me, please email me at lauren[dot]jarvis[at]gmail[dot]com. You can also find me on Twitter @laurenvjarvis.