Elisha P. Renne is a professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, University of Michigan. Renne earned her PhD in anthropology from New York University in 1990. Her dissertation focused on colonial law, marriage practices, and gender relations in southwestern Nigeria. This research formed the basis for her book, Cloth That Does Not Die: The Meaning of Cloth in Bunu Social Life, which was a 1996 Herskovits Award finalist. From 1991-1993, Renne was a post-doctoral fellow at Australia National University, Canberra, where she collaborated with demographers in studying fertility change in southwestern Nigeria. She taught at Princeton University as a Mellon Research Fellow, before joining the University of Michigan faculty in 1998.
Renne’s research in Nigeria focuses on her continuing interest in issues relating to medical anthropology, gender relations, religion, and textiles. During the summer 2005, she received a Fulbright Fellowship to study textile production and gender roles in Zaria, Nigeria, while in 2005-2006, as a fellow in the Michigan Institute of the Humanities, she examined spiritual connections maintained by US members of Nigerian-based churches.
Renne’s recent work includes a study of the polio eradication initiative in Northern Nigeria, focusing on the sociocultural and political context of this campaign as well as a study of the connections between textile production, dress, and Islamic reform in northern Nigeria. Since 2010, she has also been involved in a research project which focuses on the health and environmental consequences of small-scale gold mining in northeastern Ghana.