Loyola University Chicago

Department of Anthropology

Dr. Noah Butler


Advanced Lecturer
Department of Anthropology
Loyola University Chicago
Lake Shore Campus, BVM Tower 715
1032 W. Sheridan Road
Chicago, IL   60660
Office Phone: 773.508.3517

Noah Butler (PhD, Northwestern) is a Social/Cultural Anthropologist and Africanist. He specializes in Religion (Islam, Sufism in West Africa), Economic Anthropology (money, tribute, commodification), Political Anthropology (followers, clientage, trans-national networks), and the Anthropology of Knowledge (expertise, epistemology, Qur’anic schooling).

Dr. Butler has conducted research primarily in Niger but also elsewhere in West Africa (Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo, Ghana).  His initial fieldwork in Niger was a social biography of the country’s most celebrated Sheikh.  In turn, this research led to focusing on followers, spiritual hierarchy, and supra-local and trans-national religious networks in West Africa.  His work in Niger is multi-sited between Niamey, the capital, and the country’s foremost Sufi pilgrimage site.

Dr. Butler has been a recipient of fellowships from various scholarly organizations including the National Science Foundation, Fulbright-Hays, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies.

Newer ethnographic film is a recent hobby, older West African music a renewed appreciation, and the history of colonial New England material culture (architecture, whaling, brewing, connections with Atlantic Africa) a continued interest. 


Articles and Book Chapters

2016    Collapsed pluralities: Islamic education, learning, and creativity in Niger. In Islamic Education in Africa: Writing Boards and Black Boards. (Launay, ed.). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

2010    Ritual exchange and the fourth obligation: Ancient Maya food offerings in caves and the flexible materiality of ritual (co-author with Chris Morehart). The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (incorporating Man) 16(3): 588-608.

2006a  Costs of knowledge: Some economic underpinnings of spiritual relations in Islam in Niger. Research in Economic Anthropology 24:309-328.

2006b  The materialization of magic: Islamic talisman in West Africa. In Studies in Witchcraft, Magic, War and Peace in Africa: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. (Nicolini, ed.). Lewiston, NY: E. Mellen. pp. 263-276.

Other Selected Publications

2012    Jihad (Africa); Salt and Gold. In Cultural Sociology of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa (Orlando Patterson, ed.). Sage: Thousand Oaks, CA.

2010    Cheikh Hamidou Kane. In The Oxford Encyclopedia of African Thought (Irele and Jeyifo, eds.). New York: Oxford University Press.

2008    The Sahel; Niger; Whaling. In The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World (Stearns, ed). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2006    Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich (1770-1831); Locke, John (1632-1704); Mill, John Stuart (1806-1873); Montesquieu, Charles, de Secondat, Baron de (1689-1755); Rousseau, Jean-Jacques (1713-1778); Smith, Adam (1723-1790). In Encyclopedia of Antislavery and Abolition (P. Hinks and J. McKivigan, eds.). Westport, CT: Greenwood. 

2005    The back-to-Africa movement. A Historical Companion to Postcolonial Thought in English (Poddar and Johnson, eds.). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

2004    Alexandreta; Refugees: Balkan Muslim; Turkish Script. In Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa (P. Mattar, ed.) 2nd ed. New York: MacMillan

Courses Taught

ANTH 100    Globalization and Local Cultures

ANTH 102    Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

ANTH 207    Economies, Culture, and Development

ANTH 213    Culture in Contemporary Africa

ANTH 304    History of Anthropological Thought

ANTH 316    Anthropology of Religion and Ritual

ANTH 317    Ethnographic Methods

ANTH 361    Anthropology of Islam