Dr. James Andrew Whitaker

Department / Division

  • Cultural Anthropologist
  • (he/him)


  • Adjunct Faculty


Email: jaw159@msstate.edu


  • Off campus
  • BA, Anthropology, University of Mississippi
  • MA, Sociology, University of Mississippi
  • MA, Anthropology, Tulane University
  • PhD, Anthropology, Tulane University

Research Interests:

Keywords: Amazonia, Climate Change, Ethnohistory, Folklore, Guyana, Historical Ecology, Historical Memory, Indigenous Societies, Liberia, Mississippi in Africa, Ontologies, West Africa

James Andrew Whitaker is Adjunct Faculty in Cultural Anthropology with a primary focus on ethnohistory, historical ecology, and ontologies in Amazonia and West Africa.

Dr. Whitaker's ethnographic fieldwork has ranged from work with Indigenous communities (Makushi and Akawaio) in Amazonia to work with descendants of Americo-Liberian settlers in West Africa. His research aims to bridge ethnographic and ethnohistorical methods while focusing on the ontological dimensions of relationships between people, landscapes, and memory. He recently completed a post-doctoral fellowship (2021-2022) centered around Amazonian ontologies of climate change with the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) at Laboratoire Ecologie, Evolution, Interactions des Systèmes Amazoniens (LEEISA) in French Guiana. He also recently started a new project in Liberia as part of a Mellon/ACLS fellowship (2022). This MSU-affiliated project examines historical memories and oral histories in Sinoe County (Liberia) in relation to the 19th century colonization scheme called Mississippi in Africa.

Recent Publications:


Climatic and Ecological Change in the Americas: A Perspective from Historical Ecology. London: Routledge. (forthcoming, with Chelsey Geralda Armstrong and Guillaume Odonne)


Totemic Outsiders: Ontological Transformation among the Makushi in Guyana. Religion and Society 12: 70-85.

Sorcery and Well-Being: Bodily Transformation at Beckeranta. Anthropology & Medicine 28(1): 78-93.


Strategic Alliance and the Plantationocene among the Makushi in Guyana. Social Anthropology 28(4): 881-896.

Water Mamas among the Makushi. Folklore 131(1): 34-54.

Climatic and Ontological Change in the Anthropocene among the Makushi in Guyana. Ethnos: 85(5): 843-860.