Kyrah Malika Daniels
Kyrah Malika Daniels is a doctoral candidate in African & African American Studies with a primary field in Religion. With training in Caribbean Studies and African Studies, her research interests include comparative religion, ethnic studies, sacred art and material culture, religious healing traditions, and race and religion in the Black Atlantic. Her dissertation, "When the Spirit is Ill: Sacred Arts and Religious Healing in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of Congo", is a comparative religion project that focuses on healing rites for spiritual illnesses and mental health conditions caused by spiritual disequilibrium. Using a material culture approach, her work examines three ritual art objects employed in healing treatments, all of which mediate relationships between humans and the spirit world. Ultimately, the project reveals the multifaceted nature of what might be called a “religious orientation of the unwell” in two Haitian and Congolese communities. Furthermore, this research offers insight into how Africana religious healing systems may enrich understandings of both Western and Black Atlantic traditions of medicine.
Between 2009-2010, Kyrah served as Junior Curator at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., researching artifacts from the U.S. Gullah & Geechee regions inspired by Central African material culture traditions. Following the earthquake of 2010, Kyrah worked in St. Raphael, Haiti with Lakou Soley (Community of Sun) Academic and Cultural Arts Center, a grassroots organization that encourages the incorporation of art and performance in classroom activities for students who experience enduring traumas. She received two awards for Excellence in Teaching in 2012 and 2013. Her work has been published in the Journal of Africana Religions and the Journal of Haitian Studies, and she has a forthcoming publication in an anthology on Haitian religion, God in Every Woman (2017). A California native, Kyrah graduated from Stanford University in 2009 with a B.A. in African & African American Studies, and received her M.A. in Religion at Harvard in 2013.