Funlayo Easter Wood
Class of 2017
Funlayo Easter Wood received a Ph.D. in African and African American Studies with a primary field in Religion. An initiate of Obatala and Iyanifa, she is delighted to contribute her voice as a scholar-practitioner and is dedicated to combining scholarship with social praxis.
Funlayo’s dissertation project, “Objects and Immortals: The Life of Obi in Ifa-Orisa Religion” will produce the first full-scale scholarly text on the kola nut (obi) in the context of Yoruba indigenous religion. Its primary concern is documenting the uses of obi and exploring the ways in which characterizations of and interactions with obi reflect important religio-philosophical perspectives, particularly those of an ontological, epistemological, ethical, and existential nature. Her larger work investigates philosophical, theological, and semiotic aspects of Ifa-Orisa religious practice and comparative analysis of the tradition, within all of which she privileges Yoruba language as a conduit to understanding. Additional areas of focus include African/a philosophy, gender and sexuality in African and indigenous religions, and intersections between religion, science, and technology.
Funlayo's work has been published in the Journal of Africana Religions, Crosscurrents, and the Review of Religious Research and she has presented in academic and public forums in the United States and Nigeria. She was also featured in the PBS documentary, Sacred Journeys: Osun-Osogbo (2014) and an episode of National Geographic’s The Story of God with Morgan Freeman (2017). Funlayo is the founding director of the African and Diasporic Religious Studies Association (ADRSA) and is the Executive director of the Orisa Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to community building. She is also a contributor to and former regional recruiting director for the popular religion blog, State of Formation, and the creator of Ase Ire, an inspirational, informational web space and resource center.
A native of New York City, Funlayo holds degrees from the City University of New York Degree for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies (BA, African Diaspora in the Americas, 2008), The City College of New York (MA, History, 2010) where she was a graduate fellow at the Colin Powell Center for Leadership and Service, and Harvard University (AM, African Studies, 2013). She has additionally been awarded fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation (Fulbright-Hays), the US Department of Education (Foreign Language and Area Studies), and the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School.