Elyan Hill

Art History

Assistant Professor



Elyan Jeanine Hill is an assistant professor of African and African Diaspora art history. She received her Ph.D. in world arts and cultures/dance from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). As an interdisciplinary scholar of African arts, her research interests include festival arts, religious materiality, Black feminisms, and embodied renderings of the domestic and transatlantic slave trades in Ghana, Togo, Benin, Liberia and their diasporas.

She is currently working on a book project that foregrounds women’s production, preservation, and presentation of sacred arts in Ewe communities in coastal regions of Ghana and Togo. The book explores how Afro-Atlantic communities mobilize contemporary festive and sacred arts to transmit narratives of the transatlantic and domestic slave trades, especially contemporary representations of the period between 1700 and 1850, when the vast majority of enslaved Africans sold through the domestic trade in present-day Togo were brought from northern regions to the coast. During ritual performances honoring water spirits and the spirits of previously enslaved Africans, specialists portray cultural and commercial exchange with European colonialists, Indian merchants and African Muslims.

Hill has received fellowships and grants from UCLA’s International Institute, the Fowler Museum, the West African Research Association (WARA), the Africana Research Center at Penn State, The Arts Council for the African Studies Association (ACASA), and The Wolf Humanities Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work has been published in Conversations Across the Field of Dance Studies and in the edited volume Embodying Black Religions in Africa and Its Diasporas published by Duke University Press. She also maintains a curatorial practice that embraces experimental ethnography and Black feminist ethics.