Professor of Anthropology:
Phone: +1 401 863 1636
Ph.D. Harvard U 1967
William Simmons studies social/cultural anthropology, religion, myth, and ritual focusing on West Africa and Native America. He is also interested in American cultural pluralism and the transformations of contemporary American research universities.
1. Three books and numerous articles and chapters on Native American religion in the historic period. These include studies of mortuary ritual, religious conversion, and the persistence of traditional folkloric traditions (myths and legends) into the present day. I have done extensive field research among the Native peoples of southern New England (Narragansett, Pequot, Mohegan, Massachusett, and Wampanoag and among the Northern Maidu of Plumas and Lassen Counties in northern California). This work also includes collaborative research with most of these groups on topics related to petitions for federal recognition.
2. I have done 15 months of field research among the Badyaranke of Senegal (leading to one book and several articles on traditional religion, witchcraft, and conversion to Islam).
3. For the last three years, I have been studying the changing character of American research universities from an anthropological and multidisciplinary viewpoint. My goal is to write a series of essays on how changes in academic values, governance, community, funding, curriculum, and rapports with the wider world are interconnected.
Social-Cultural Anthropology, History and Theory, Religion, Mythology, North American Indians (past and present), American Pluralism, American Higher Education.