Affiliated with the Center for Latin American Studies, the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture, and African Studies at the University of Chicago.
Professor Cécile Fromont's writing and teaching focus on the visual, material, and religious culture of Africa and Latin America with a special emphasis on the early modern period (ca 1500-1800) and on the Portuguese-speaking Atlantic World. Her first book, The Art of Conversion: Christian Visual Culture in the Kingdom of Kongo, won a College Art Association Millard Meiss Publication Fund Grant, was named the American Academy of Religion's 2015 Best First Book in the History of Religions, received the 2015 Albert J. Raboteau Book Prize for the Best Book in Africana Religions, and an honorable mention for the 2015 Melville J. Herkovits Award of the African Studies Association. Her essays on African and Latin American art have appeared, among other venues, in the Colonial Latin American Review, African Arts, RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics as well as various edited volumes and exhibition catalogues. Support for her research and writing include grants and fellowships from the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, the Michigan Society of Fellows, the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music.
Professor Fromont is currently pursuing two lines of research investigating areas of intersection between visual and material culture, religion, and knowledge creation in cross-cultural environments of early modern Africa and Latin America. The first project is a study of Franciscan Capuchin images of Kongo and Angola composed between 1650 and 1750 that examines the formation and communication of cross-cultural knowledge and the second an investigation of the circulation of African visual, material, and religious culture in the early modern Atlantic world.
- The Art of Conversion: Christian Visual Culture in the Kingdom of Kongo (University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute Book Publication Program: 2014)
- "Dancing for the King of Congo, from Early Modern Central Africa to Slavery-Era Brazil." Colonial Latin American Review 22, 2 (2013): 184-208.
- "Dance, Image, Myth, and Conversion in the Kingdom of Kongo: 1500-1800." African Arts 44, 4 (2011): 54-65.
Listed as one of “50 influential articles published by the Journals division of the MIT Press” in the last 50 years. Read more.
- "Under the Sign of the Cross in the Kingdom of Kongo: Religious Conversion and Visual Correlation in Early Modern Central Africa." RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, 59-60, (2011): 109-123.
Featured on The Religion & Culture Webforum of the University of Chicago’s Marvin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion with invited responses by John Thornton (Boston University) and Robert Young (New York University) Find them here.
- "Collecting and Translating Knowledge Across Cultures: Capuchin Missionary Images of Early modern Central Africa." In Collecting Across Cultures: Material Exchanges in the Early Modern Atlantic World, edited by Daniela Bleichmar and Peter Mancall, 134-154. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011.
- "A Walk through the City: Stories and Histories of Luanda 1575-1975." Ellipsis: The Journal of the American Portuguese Studies Association, 4 (2006): 49-78.
Ph.D. History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University