Patrick Royer holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. His research focuses on Africa, particularly West Africa, where he has conducted ethnographic studies for many years.
His research interests include past and recent religious prophetic movements in Africa, religious conversion, and local religious beliefs and practices in a global world. More recent areas of interest have focused on issues that include the relationship of religion, violence, and climate change. His research on religion have been published in journals including Africa (London and Cahiers d’Etudes Africaines (Paris).
Royer’s interest in African history has led him to a different area of study with the investigation of the largest revolt fought against a colonial power in West Africa. This anthropological and historical research has led to the publication of journal articles, encyclopedia entry (Encyclopédie de la colonisation française), and of a book, Challenge to Empire (Athens, Ohio University Press, 2001), co-authored with Mahir Saul, which was awarded the 2001 Amaury Talbot Prize of the Royal Anthropological Society.
People’s conviction that they could obtain victory against a powerful military regime with traditional socio-cultural organization and conventional warfare techniques raises questions about the nature of colonial wars and their common points with contemporary asymmetric wars. This type of conflict addresses related issues such as nation-building, pacification, and relations between technology, culture, and war. This recent research, part of a field known as “War and Society”, deals with the social and cultural dimensions of war rather than with military operations. Part of this research will be published in the forthcoming book, La guerre en miroir: conquête et pacification au Soudan Occidental [War, Conquest, and Pacification in Western Sudan] (Paris, Les Indes savantes).