Laura S. Grillo is a professor of comparative religions and cultural anthropology and oversees doctoral dissertations in her department at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She has also played a significant administrative role there as the lead author of four successful institutional self-assessment reports for accreditation.
Building on her experiences of living and working in both Côte d’Ivoire and Kenya, Laura earned her Ph.D. from The University of Chicago in History of Religions, specializing in contemporary African indigenous religions. She also holds an M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary in New York City and an A.B. in Religious Studies and Psychology from Brown University.
Laura conducted postdoctoral fieldwork on divination in urban West Africa for which she won three competitive grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Academy of Religions and the West Africa Research Association. She is the author of chapters in textbooks and anthologies on religious studies, ethics, African studies, and anthropology. She has a substantial publication record in academic journals and also contributed articles to encyclopedias including The Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Encyclopedia of Religion, and Encyclopedia of Women and World Religion. In addition she translated two books in her field from French to English. To support the research for her current book-in-progress, AN INTIMATE REBUKE: FEMALE GENITAL POWER IN RITUAL AND POLITICS IN CÔTE D’IVOIRE, Laura was granted a Fellowship at Harvard Divinity School in 2013.
Laura has been an active leader in her field, serving for six years as the Chair of the African Religions Group of the American Academy of Religion (AAR), as well as on the AAR’s Program Sub-Committee, supporting the Executive Director. She is also on the Editorial Board of RELIGION COMPASS JOURNAL.
In addition, Laura is a creative writer. She has won several residency fellowships at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and The Ragdale Foundation in Illinois. These competitive grants were awarded for her as yet unpublished memoir, ASK FOR THE ROAD, about her return to Ivory Coast, the haunting memories of her marriage there, and her uncanny experiences with the diviners as her consultations turned her fieldwork into an investigation of a more personal kind.
Laura joined our team in 2015 as a writer, preparing psychological assessment reports.