Aisha Beliso-De Jesús

Position
Olden Street Professor of American Studies
Role
Chair, Effron Center for the Study of America
Title
Director, Program in American Studies
Office Phone
Office
Morrison Hall, Room 220
Education
  • Ph.D., Stanford University
  • M.A., Stanford University
  • B.A., University of California, Berkeley
Bio/Description

Aisha M. Beliso-De Jesús is a cultural and social anthropologist who has conducted ethnographic research with Santería practitioners in Cuba and the United States, and police officers and communities of color affected by police violence in the United States. Her recent monograph, Excited Delirium: Race, Police Violence and the Invention of a Disease (Duke University Press, 2024) examines the medicalization of police violence. Beliso-De Jesús unravels how “excited delirium syndrome,” a fabricated medical diagnosis, has been used to justify and erase police violence against Black and Brown communities, where she exposes the inextricable ties to the criminalization of Afro-Latiné religions. Her co-edited volume, The Anthropology of White Supremacy: A Reader (Princeton University Press, 2025), brings together anthropologists from across the globe to interrogate and dismantle the colonial, political, and economic structures of white supremacy, analyzing it as a global phenomenon.

Beliso-De Jesús’s work contributes to Afro-Latiné and transnational American Studies, studies of policing and militarization, anthropology of the African diaspora, religious studies, and transnational feminist theory. Her first book, Electric Santería: Racial and Sexual Assemblages of Transnational Religion (Columbia University Press, 2015), won the 2016 Albert J. Raboteau Award for the Best Book in Africana Religions. She is currently completing a book, Zombie Patrol: Policing African Diaspora Religions which examines the criminalization of Black and Latiné religions, issues of animal sacrifice, policing, race and the constitutional question of religious freedom in the United States. Beliso-De Jesús has also spearheaded ethnographic research on police use of force in New Orleans, LA funded by the National Science Foundation.

Her academic publications include articles in American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Cultural Anthropology, Signs, the Journal of Africana Religions, the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and the Annual Review of Anthropology. She came to Princeton after eight years at Harvard Divinity School where she was professor of African American Religions and a member of the Cuba Policy Committee at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, a faculty associate of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and on the executive board of the Safra Center for Ethics. Beliso-De Jesús is the co-founder and co-director of the Center on Transnational Policing (CTP) at Princeton University, and Editor-In-Chief of Transforming Anthropology, the flagship journal for the Association of Black Anthropologists. For over twenty years, she has worked with numerous grassroots, public policy, substance abuse, and other nonprofit organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area advocating social justice issues, teen-parent support, alternative healing approaches, and empowerment strategies for youth of color.