Richard Brent Turner

Professor, African American Religious History
Interdisciplinary Program Faculty, African American Studies and International Studies

Dr. Turner joined the University of Iowa faculty in 2001 and holds appointments in Department of Religious Studies, African American Studies Program, and International Programs.

His research program focuses on twentieth-century and contemporary African-American religious history and African diaspora religions in the Black Atlantic world. He is especially interested in the following areas: Islam in the United States; religion and music in New Orleans, before and after Hurricane Katrina; Vodou in the United States and Haiti; interactions between African-American religion and popular music — jazz, soul, and hip hop; black nationalism and religion; African-American religion and human rights; ethnography; urban religious experience; and globalization and transnationalism.

Dr. Turner is currently working on a book project on African-American religion and music in the 1960s. He is a member of  American Academy of Religion, American Anthropological Association, Association for Africanist Anthropology, and is on the board of directors of KOSANBA, an international scholarly association for the study of Haitian Vodou.

Research interests

  • African-American religious history
  • African diaspora religions in the Black Atlantic world

Selected publications

For complete list, please view Dr. Turner's CV:

Courses taught

Dr. Turner regularly teaches a series of courses on African-American religious history and African American Studies. Many of his courses are cross-listed in the Department of Religious Studies and the African American Studies Program.

  • 129:108 (032:108) Malcolm X, King & Human Rights
  • 032:034 (129:050) Introduction to African-American Religions
  • 032:126 (129:123) 20th Century African-American Religion: Civil Rights to Hip Hop
  • 032:063 (129:063) African-American Islam
  • 129:060 Introduction to African American Society
  • 129:029 First-Year Seminar: Black New Orleans, before and after Hurricane Katrina

Awards, honors, and grants

  • Founding Coordinator, African American Studies Program, University of Iowa, 2005-2009
  • Board of Directors, KOSANBA, an International Scholarly Association for the Study of Haitian Vodou, 2007-
  • Board of Advisors,The Encyclopedia Of Muslim-American History, Edited by Edward E. Curtis IV, New York: Facts on File,2010, 2007-2009
  • Carter G. Woodson Distinguished Lecturer,The Journal of African-American History, 2004-2006
  • Advisory Group, African Americans and the Bible Interdisciplinary Research Project, Union Theological Seminary, 2001
  • Review Panelist, Ford Foundation Fellowships for Minorities Program, National Research Council, 2001, 2003, 2004
  • Consultant for Blackside Video, Inc., PBS Documentary, This Far by Faith: African-American Spiritual Journeys, 1998-1999
  • Fellow, W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University, 1988-1989
Picture of Richard Brent Turner
PhD, Princeton University
Contact Information

310 Gilmore Hall (GILH)
112 North Capitol Street
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States


508 Jefferson Building (JB)
129 East Washington Street
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States