Aisha Beliso-De Jesús

Professor of American Studies
Director, Program in American Studies
Office Phone
351 East Pyne Hall
  • Ph.D., Stanford University
  • M.A., Stanford University
  • B.A., University of California, Berkeley

Aisha M. Beliso-De Jesús is a cultural and social anthropologist who has conducted ethnographic research with Santería practitioners in Cuba and the United States, and police officers and communities of color affected by police violence in the United States. Her research and teaching span the United States, Caribbean, Latin America, Africana, and Afro-Latinx communities. Beliso-De Jesús’ work contributes to cultural and media studies, anthropology of religion, critical race studies, Black and Latinx transnational feminist and queer theory, African diaspora religious studies, and studies on policing and militarization.

Her first book, Electric Santería: Racial and Sexual Assemblages of Transnational Religion (Columbia University Press, 2015), won the 2016 Albert J. Raboteau Award for the Best Book in Africana Religions. It details the transnational experience of Santería in which racialized and gendered spirits, deities, priests, and religious travelers remake local, national, and political boundaries and actively reconfigure notions of technology and transnationalism. She is completing a book, Zombie Patrol: Policing African Diaspora Religions which examines the criminalization and racialization of religions of Black and Latinx in the U.S. Beliso-De Jesús has also launched a team-based ethnographic research project on police use of force in New Orleans, funded by the National Science Foundation.

Her publications include articles in American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Cultural Anthropology, Signs, the Journal of Africana Religions, and the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. She came to Princeton after eight years at Harvard Divinity School where she was professor of African American religions and a member of the Cuba Policy Committee at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, a faculty associate of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and on the executive board of the Safra Center for Ethics.

Beliso-De Jesús is the co-founder and co-director of the Center on Transnational Policing (CTP) at Princeton University, and editor-in-chief of Transforming Anthropology, the flagship journal for the Association of Black Anthropologists. For over 20 years, she has worked with numerous grassroots, public policy, substance abuse, and other nonprofit organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area advocating social justice issues, teen-parent support, alternative healing approaches, and empowerment strategies for youth of color.