Zebulon Dingley

Assistant Professor

Address: Maybank 215
Office Hours: MW 2:00-3:30
Phone: 843.953.1420
E-mail: dingleyz@cofc.edu

Zebulon Dingley is an historian of politics and the occult in East Africa, focusing in particular on ritual and rumor on the Kenyan coast from the nineteenth century to the present. He received his Ph.D. in Anthropology and History from the University of Chicago in 2018. His research explores how rural coastal Kenyans have engaged a range of unseen forces, from spirits to the state. His current book project, Mumiani: Bodies, Rumor, and Ritual History in Coastal Kenya, analyzes local rumors about blood and body-part thieves as archives of political transformation, medical innovation, and ecological disruption from the precolonial period to today.


2018 – Ph.D., The University of Chicago

2011 – M.A., The University of Chicago

2007 – B.A., The University of Chicago

Research Interests

Ritual and rumor




Witchcraft and anti-witchcraft



Courses Taught

Maritime Cultures of the Indian Ocean World

Pre-Colonial Africa

Witchcraft in African History

African Political History

Gender in African History

African Popular Culture

African Economic History

African Religion and Ritual

Honors and Awards

Frederick Douglass Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Rochester (2018–2020)

W. E. B. Du Bois Research Institute Predoctoral Fellowship, Harvard University (2017)

Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship (2017)

Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship (2014)

Wenner-Gren Foundation Dissertation Fieldwork Grant (2013)


Mumiani Season: Visual Aspects of a South Coast Kenyan Rumor.” Visual Anthropology 36:3 (2023): 229–248. https://doi.org/10.1080/08949468.2023.2203295

“Politics by Night: Histories of Extraversion and Rumours of Body Part Theft on the South Coast of Kenya.” Africa 92:1 (2022): 133–51https://doi.org/10.1017/S0001972021000802

“The Transfiguration of Lukas Pkech: Dini ya Msambwa and the ‘Kolloa Affray’.” Journal of Religion and Violence 8:1 (2020), 5–34. https://doi.org/10.5840/jrv202072674

“Rumor and History Revisited: ‘Mumiani’ in Coastal Kenya, 1945.” Journal of African History 59:3 (2018), 381–98. http://doi.org/10.1017/S0021853718000749