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Surrounded by the Spirits: Paul Stoller and the Songhay Journey Towards Wellbeing

September 29, 2023 – December 1, 2024

Opening reception: September 29, 2023 at 6:30 pm

Honoring the life work of renowned anthropologist Paul Stoller, Surrounded by the Spirits: Paul Stoller and the Songhay Journey Towards Wellbeing invites us to experience the culture of West Africa, and gain profound insights into holistic healing practices that place us in harmony with the social, natural and spiritual worlds. With rare artifacts from Niger and Ghana, the exhibition examines the varied healing practices of the Songhay people of Niger—including spirit possession, witchcraft and divination, Islamic religious devotion, and traditional medicine. A second retrospective gallery looks at the life of Stoller, who trained as a Songhay sorcerer’s apprentice, conducted urban ethnography among the West African diaspora, and is internationally recognized for his evocative and accessible writing style. A professor of anthropology at West Chester University for his entire career, Stoller is the author of over 15 books and the recipient of numerous awards including the Anders Retzius Medal given by the King of Sweden, the highest honor in anthropology.


Curator: Michael A. Di Giovine, Professor of Anthropology; Director, Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology
Graduate Curator: Virginia Vintson, MA Candidate in History
Assistant Curator: David Blackburn, Director, Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
Exhibit Design: Thomas Haughey, Associate Professor of Theater; Exhibits Designer, Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology
Graphic Design: Stephanie Thompson, Publications Assistant, WCU Graphics and Printing
Exhibition Design Consultant: Karen Watkins, Associate Professor of Art + Design 
Student Co-Curators: William Babitts, Isabella Campese, Allison Magerr, Mary Moyer, Emily Nammavong, Katherine Noll, Sadie Patterson, Maclaren Remy, Mayur Suresh, Harrison Warren, Matt Wileyto, Kevin Wilson, Sydney Wise
Curatorial Interns: Kaitlyn Murray (Ursinus); Karthik Murugan and Caleb Beck (Downingtown East HS)
Virtual Exhibition Designers: Tom Pantazes and Hannah Glatt, Office of Digital Learning and Innovation

In the News


Enter the Virtual Exhibition

Click on the + for instructions on how to navigate the 3D map, and click the arrow to enter


Paul Stoller’s Life: An Oral History


Lectures and video content

Opening Speeches, "Surrounded by the Spirits: Paul Stoller & the Songhay Journey Towards Wellbeing"