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Susan J. Rasmussen

Susan J. Rasmussen

Ph.D., Indiana University

Old Science Building, Suite 230


Susan Rasmussen, Professor of Anthropology within the Department of Comparative Cultural Studies at the University of Houston, has conducted field research in rural and urban Tuareg (Kel Tamajaq) communities of northern Niger and Mali and among African immigrants in France. Her interests include religion, healing systems and specialists, gender in aging and the life course, verbal art performance, African humanities, and more broadly, the connections between symbolism and power and the relationship between anthropology and human rights. She has published a number of articles and five books. Her published authored books include Spirit Possession and Personhood among the Kel Ewey Tuareg; The Poetics and Politics of Tuareg Aging; Healing in Community; Those Who Touch: Tuareg Medicine Women in Anthropological Perspective; and Neighbors, Strangers, Witches, and Culture-Heroes: Ritual Powers of Smith/Artisans in Tuareg Society and Beyond. Current projects include a book nearing publication on Tuareg acting, actors, and plays in northern Mali, another book manuscript in progress on intergenerational relationships in Tuareg migration, and article manuscripts on ritual, memory, cultural revival, and other topics among the Tuareg of Niger and Mali, and on conversion experiences among diasporic Africans in France.

Research Interests

  • Religion
  • Gender
  • Aging and the life cycle
  • Medico-rituals and healing specialists
  • Verbal art performance
  • Memory
  • Human rights
  • Africa (Sahara; Sahel; West Africa; North Africa)


Africanist Award for Research Excellence, University of Texas, Austin, March, 2008


  • American Anthropological Association
  • American Ethnological Society
  • The Semiotic Society of America
  • African Studies Association
  • Houston Museum of Natural Science
  • Houston Museum of Fine Arts
  • Amnesty International

Selected Publications

Rasmussen, Susan. Spirit Possession and Personhood among the Kel Ewey Tuareg. N.p.: Cambridge; University Press, 1995.

Rasmussen, Susan. The Poetics and Politics of Tuareg Aging. Northern Illinois University Press, 1997.

Rasmussen, Susan. Healing in Community. N.p.: Bergin & Garvey Press, 2001.

Rasmussen, Susan. Those Who Touch: Tuareg Medicine Women in Anthropological Perspective. Northern Illinois University Press, 2006.

Rasmussen, Susan. (2009). Critically Re-Thinking 'Islamic Dress', The American Journal of Semiotics, vol 25. 1-2 ,pp.1-23.

Rasmussen, Susan. Do Tents and Herds Still Matter, Pastoral Nomadism and Gender, eds., Carolyn Sargent and Caroline Brettel, Prentice Hall Press, pp. 162-174.

Rasmussen, Susan. (2008). The People of Solitude, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, vol. 14, pp. 609-627.

Curriculum Vitae