Chair; History of Art & Architecture, Professor; African Art


Cynthia Becker (BA, University of New Orleans; MA, PhD University of Wisconsin-Madison) is Professor of African art history in the History of Art & Architecture Department at Boston University. Her book Amazigh Arts in Morocco: Women Shaping Berber Identity (University of Texas Press, 2006) won a Choice book award in 2007. She has written numerous articles about such topics as the Sahara as a cultural and artistic zone, Amazigh identity politics, contemporary art in the Maghreb, Black Indians in New Orleans, as well as counter-monuments to the Confederacy in New Orleans (her hometown). Her latest book, Blackness in Morocco: Gnawa Identity through Music and Visual Culture, was published by the University of MN Press in November 2020 and won an Honorable Mention Award from the American Institute of Maghreb Studies.

Her writings on North Africa have been included in numerous museum exhibitions, including those organized by the Musée berbère du Jardin Marjorelle (for Berber Women of Morocco), the Institut du Monde Arabe (for Trésors de l’islam en Afrique), the Block Museum at Northwestern (for Caravans of Gold), the Newark Museum (for Arts of Global Africa), and the University of Florida Harn Museum (for Africa Interweave: Textile Diasporas). She has publications in such journals as African ArtsRES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, Critical Interventions, the Journal of North African Studies, de arte, and Contemporary Islam.

Her research has been supported by grants from Fulbright, the Council of American Overseas Centers, Fulbright-Hays, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the American Institute of Maghreb Studies, and Boston University’s Initiative on Cities.

The undergraduate courses that she teaches at Boston University include “Arts of Africa and its Diaspora,” “African Art in the City,” and “From Morocco to Timbuktu: Art and Architecture at the Saharan Crossroads.” She also teaches graduate seminars on such topics as contemporary art and photography in Africa, post-colonial theory, and Art and Trade Across the Medieval Sahara. She was awarded an Innovative Teaching Award by the Arts Council of the African Studies Association in 2020.

Curriculum Vitae

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Select Publications

Blackness in Morocco: Gnawa Identity through Music and Visual Culture.
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2020.
Confederate Soldiers, Voodoo Queens, and Black Indians:
Monuments and Counter-Monuments in New Orleans.

de arte 54, no.2 (2019): 41-64.
“The Sahara as a Cultural Zone.”in Caravans of Gold: Fragments in Time,
edited by Kathleen Bickford Berzock, 99-106.
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2019.
“New Orleans Mardi Gras Indians: Mediating Racial Politics from the Backstreets to Main Street.”
African Arts
46, no. 2 (Summer 2013): 36-49.
“Matriarchal Nomads and Freedom Fighters:
Transnational Amazigh Consciousness and Moroccan, Algerian, and Nigerien Artists.”

Critical Interventions: Journal of African Art History and Visual Culture 5 (2009): 70-101.
Amazigh Arts in Morocco: Women Shaping Berber Identity.
Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006.