Times and Seasons is happy to announce that Walter E.A. van Beek accepted to join the team of permabloggers. Walter van Beek (his Dutch first name is Wouter, but in international scenes he uses the anglicized version Walter) received his PhD in cultural anthropology in 1978 at Utrecht University (Netherlands), based upon a long field study among the Kapsiki/Higi of North Cameroon and North-eastern Nigeria. He was associate professor of anthropology in Utrecht till his appointment at Tilburg as full professor with the chair ‘Anthropology of Religion’ at the Department of Religious studies of the Faculty of Humanities at Tilburg University in 2007, also in the Netherlands.
After his PhD, dr. van Beek proceeded with ethnographic work in Mali among the Dogon, and is still engaged in both projects, in Cameroon and Mali. His principal theme in these studies is religion, in fact a variety of aspects of African traditional religions, and he has followed both the Kapsiki/Higi religion as the Dogon religion now in their dynamics for the past thirty years publishing extensively on the topic, both in ethnographic and theoretical contributions. A recent publication on the Kapsiki is The Dancing Dead. Ritual and Religion among the Kapsiki/Higi of North Cameroon and Northeastern Nigeria, New York, Oxford University Press, 2012. Other themes in his work include ritual theory, Western fundamentalism (in particular the study of the ups and downs of apocalyptic discourses), and the local impact of tourism in Africa, resulting in a recent edited volume on cultural tourism in Africa, African Hosts and their Guests: Dynamics of Cultural Tourism, Oxford, Currey, 2012. Additionally, prof. van Beek has a long experience in Southern Africa, which started with eight years of supervising a large Utrecht MA research programme in Namibia and South Africa, 1994-2002.
Dr. van Beek has taught a large array of anthropological sub-specialisations at Utrecht University, and now teaches courses on religious anthropology and on ritual theory and on tourism and religion at Tilburg University. In the spring term of 2012 he taught two courses at Venice International University, comparative apocalyptics and African tourism. He has been (co)promoter of 18 successful PhD candidates, and now supervises another 12 PhD candidates in their thesis research and writing. As to Mormon Studies, he has published more than a dozen articles on Mormonism in various international journals and edited voumes, and is planning a book on comparative apocalyptic movements, with a focus on the fading phase of apocalyptic discourses.
A lifelong aficionado of draughts (the international version of what is known as 10×10 checkers) he has been president of the World Draughts Federation from 1992-2003, and executive vice-president of the Continental African Draughts Confederation, 2003-2006. In the first capacity he is co-founder of the International Mind Sports Association, part of Sport Accord.
An active church member, Walter van Beek has been branch president, stake president, and fulfilled almost all callings possible in a small ward (even once in Primary but – for some undisclosed reasons – never in Relief Society). At present he is the high priest group leader in the Utrecht ward, a member of the Dutch national Public Affairs Committee, and Institute teacher. Father of four children, and proud grandfather of 11 grandchildren.