Douglas Bafford

Douglas Bafford

Sociology and Anthropology

Visiting Assistant Professor
PhD in Anthropology, Brandeis University

Fields: Anthropology of religion; evangelical Christianity; racial inequality in post-apartheid South Africa; cross-cultural epistemology; legal anthropology; self-sufficiency movements
Office Phone: 1-443-823-6364
Office: Beaven Hall 230
Mailbox: 50A
Office Hours: M 4:30-5:30pm, W 11:00am -1:00pm and by appointment
Professional Website


Douglas Bafford is a cultural anthropologist specializing in questions of religious and scientific knowledge production. He has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in South Africa and the United States with evangelical Christians, exploring how people who adopt a conservative religious framework understand and respond to prevailing social problems. This research involves qualitative analyses of diverse trends facing Christian communities, including the discourse of anti-racism, controversies over young-earth creationism, and anxieties about the global rise of Pentecostalism. These projects place complex expressions of religious rhetoric in a comparative and cross-cultural perspective. More broadly, he has written about the changing post-apartheid religious landscape and the intersection of religion and science in everyday life.

His current work considers the effects of breakdowns in trust and authority in South Africa through multifaceted efforts in both religious and secular settings to provide for infrastructural needs apart from mainstream state-based management. At Holy Cross, he introduces students to the analytic perspective of anthropology through the introductory course (ANTH 101) and intermediate-level courses in the anthropology of religion and legal anthropology. The goal of these courses is to equip students with a holistic and critical understanding of our interconnected, multicultural world.

Courses Taught

  • ANTH 101, The Anthropological Perspective
  • ANTH 252, Anthropology of Law
  • ANTH 262, Anthropology of Religion


  • “Who Gets to Own Land?” In press. In People before Markets: An Alternative Case Book, edited by Daniel Souleles, Johan Gersel, and Morten Sørensen Thaning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • "Review of Glossolalia and the Problem of Language, Nicholas Harkness, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2021.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology. doi:10.1111/jola.12317

  • “Pentecostal Promise and a South African Dream Deferred.” 2020. Africa Is a Country, March 31.

  • “Aging and the End Times: Evangelical Eschatology and Experiences of Elderhood in the United States and South Africa.” 2019. Anthropology & Aging 40(1):32-47. doi:10.5195/aa.2019.197

  • “Religion and Science.” 2018. In The International Encyclopedia of Anthropology. Hilary Callan, general editor. Simon Coleman, associate editor. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. doi:10.1002/9781118924396.wbiea1812