Sean Hanretta specializes in the intellectual and cultural history of West Africa. His particular interests are the history of Islam in Africa and of African religions more generally. His current work is on wedding and funeral reforms in colonial and post-colonial Ghana, for his book Love and Death: Reforming Muslim Weddings and Funerals in the Gold Coast. His book Islam and Social Change in French West Africa: History of an Emancipatory Community was published in 2009 by Cambridge University Press. It follows the history and religious community of Muslim Sufi mystics from socially marginal backgrounds in colonial French West Africa. Hanretta also has strong interests in historical theory, African diaspora studies, and comparative studies of slavery.
Hanretta has published research on precolonial Zulu history, on mining camps in the Belgian Congo, and on the history of Islam in West Africa. His work has appeared in the Journal of African History and Comparative Studies in Society and History.
Hanretta received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2003 and has taught at Stanford since 2004. He has been awarded the Mellon Fellowship for 1995-1996, the Fulbright Fellowship for 2000-2001, and the Social Science Research Council Fellowship for 1998-1999 and 2000-2001.