Girish Daswani

Girish Daswani
Associate Professor
Past Director of the Centre for Ethnography
Telephone number
(416) 208-2892
Fax number
Building HL 338

Girish Daswani is a social-cultural anthropologist with a special interest in Ghana. For his first book Looking Back, Moving Forward: Transformation and Ethical Practice in the Ghanaian Church of Pentecost, Professor Daswani conducted multi-sited research with members of a Ghanaian Pentecostal church in southern Ghana and London. Focusing on Pentecostal Christianity as an ethical framework for understanding individual and social change, he looked at how Pentecostalism subjectively frames and facilitates church members ideas of religious transformation, personhood, and overseas travel. Professor Daswani’s current research examines how different segments of Ghanaian society are responding to escalating accusations of political and moral corruption: they include activists, artists, prophets, street traders and traditional priests. 


  • Centre for Ethnography, UTSC
  • Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies, UofT
  • Graduate Department for the Study of Religion, UofT

Teaching Interests

  • Culture, Politics and Globalization
  • The Anthropology of Transnationalism
  • Conceptualizing Religion

Research Interests

Religion, Diaspora and Transnationalism, Morality and Ethics, Activism and Corruption
Research Region: Ghana


Awards and Grants

  • 2009 CERIS Research Grant $12,500. "Citizenship and Suburban Space: Intersections of Housing, Services, Identity and Belonging for Newcomers in Kingston/Galloway/Orton Park, Scarborough". Principal Investigator. Collaborators: Professors Susan Bunce and Magie Cummings.
  • 2008 Student Experience Fund (SEF), Student Summer Ethnographic Research Project. $3500. Co-recipient with Professor Maggie Cummings.
  • 2008 SSHRC Institutional Grant, (SIG), Spirit Mediums, Local Histories and Global Identities in Southern Ghana. $2750, Principal Investigator.


Selected Publication

2018. “Ethics and morality, anthropological approaches to…” In Hilary Callan (Editor). The International Encyclopedia of Anthropology. John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

2016.‘Prophet but not for Profit’: Value and Virtue in Ghanaian Pentecostalism. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 20(1): 108-126.

2015.  Co-authored with Jon Bialecki. Introduction: What is an Individual? The view from Christianity. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory  5(1): 271–294.

2015. Co-editor with Jon Bialecki. Special Section on ‘The anthropology of personhood, redux: Views from Christianity’. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 5(1).

2015. Christian Personhood in a Ghanaian Pentecostal Church. Milestones: AnthroCyBib Occasional Paper Series.

2015. Looking Back, Moving Forward: Transformation and Ethical Practice in the Ghanaian Church of Pentecost.  University of Toronto Press.

2014. Ritual Textuality: Review Forum on Tomlinson, Matt. 2014. Ritual Textuality: Pattern and Motion in Performance. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

2013.  On Christianity and Ethics: Rupture as Ethical Practice in Ghanaian Pentecostalism. American Ethnologist 40(3): pp. 467-479

2013. The Anthropology of Diaspora and Transnationalism. In Ato Quayson and Girish Daswani (eds) Diaspora and Transnational Studies Companion. Blackwell.

2013 (with A. Quayson). Diaspora and Transnationalism: Scapes, Scopes and Scales. In Ato Quayson and Girish Daswani (eds) Diaspora and Transnational Studies Companion. Blackwell.

2012. Global Pentecostal Networks and the problems of Culture: The Church of Pentecost in Ghana and Abroad’. In Michael Wilkinson (ed) Global Pentecostal Movements: Migration, Mission, and Public Religion. Brill.

2011. (In-) Dividual Pentecostals in Ghana, Journal of Religion in Africa 41(3): 256-279.

2011 (with S. Bunce and M. Cummings). Citizenship and Urban Space: Settlement for Newcomers to Kingston-Galloway/Orton Park, CERIS Working Paper No. 86.

2010. Transformation and Migration Among Members of a Pentecostal Church in Ghana and London, Journal of Religion in Africa 40(4): 424-474.

2010. Ghanaian Pentecostal Prophets: Travel and (Im)-Mobility. In Kristine Krausse and Gertrud Huewelmeier (eds) Travelling Spirits, Migrants, Markets, and Moralities. Routledge Press.

Reviews, Commentaries and Other Writing

Forthcoming. Moving by the Spirit: Pentecostal Social Life on the Zambian Copper Belt. Religion and Society: Advances in Research.

2017. Same but not the same: White fantasies and (In)difference in the Time of Trump. Everyday Orientalism Blog.

2017. A “global message of unity, peace and understanding”? Pepsi’s white, privileged gaze on protesting bodies. Everyday Orientalism Blog. Co-authored with Katherine Blouin.

2017. Christianity, Wealth and Spiritual Power in Ghana. AnthroCyBib: The Anthropology of Christianity Bibliography Blog.

2016. Living the Hiplife: Celebrity and Entrepreneurship in Ghanaian Popular Music. American Ethnologist 43(4): 788-789.

Interviews and Public Talks

2018. “The Benefits of Not Belonging” TedxUTSC Talk.

2016 Interview with Girish Daswani. AnthroCyBib: The Anthropology of Christianity Bibliography Blog.

2014. “Where are you from, really?” TedxUTSC Talk.