Dr Katrien Pype

Dr Katrien Pype

Department of African Studies and Anthropology
Birmingham Fellow

Contact details

I am an anthropologist interested in the social and cultural contours of communication. Until now, I have studied how messages were transferred to masses (proselytization via TV serials/propaganda via TV news). Lately, I have started to analyse how people make sense of communication technologies in their daily lives and how it impacts urban lifeworlds.

I am also an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Anthropological Research in Africa (IARA) at the KU Leuven University (Belgium).


I obtained an MA degree in Literature (German literature) and an MA degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology as well as an Advanced Masters degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology, all at the KU Leuven University. I also earned my PhD in Anthropology at the KU Leuven (2008).


I received my PhD in Anthropology at the University of Leuven with a dissertation on the production of evangelizing TV drama in Kinshasa (2008). Since then, I have been a Newton International Fellow at the Department of African Studies and Anthropology (formerly known as CWAS) at the University of Birmingham (2009-2011). Between 2011 and 2013, I was a Marie Curie Fellow (FP7-2009) at MIT and KU Leuven.


In 2013-2014, I have been co-teaching the module on African Religion and Ritual with Karin Barber.

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome students who want to work on all facets of popular culture, technology and society interactions, gender and old age.


I am committed to the established methods of anthropology, i.e. longterm fieldwork, participant observation and interviews, in order to understand how humans communicate their experiences. My recent research has included:

  • Grandparents, grandchildren and mobile phones in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Ethnography of evangelizing TV drama in Kinshasa (dissertation research, KU Leuven University).
  • Ethnography of politics, memory and audio-visual journalism (British Academy, 2009-2011, funded by a Newton International Fellowship, carried out at the University of Birmingham).
  • Ethnography of ICT and old age in contemporary Kinshasa (European Commission, Marie Curie IOF, FP7-PEOPLE, carried out at MIT and KU Leuven University).

I am currently starting a new, larger project on Technology and Culture in Urban Congo.

Other activities

  • Member of the editorial board of ‘Africa: Journal of the International African Institute’
  • Founder and coordinator of the CongoResearchNetwork



Edited volumes (international publishers, peer reviewed)

  • 2012 Canadian Journal of African Studies 46 (3)on “Religion and Transformation within and beyond Africa’ (with Steven Van Wolputte and Anne Melice) – proceedings of the conference on Mobility and Religion in Africa and the African Diaspora (December 2009, Tervuren)


  • 2014 Social Compass 61 (1)‘Religious Media in Africa and the Diaspora: Circulation, Mediation and Competition’ (with Steven Van Wolputte and Anne Melice) – proceedings of the conference on Mobility and Religion in Africa and Beyond (December 2009,

Articles (international journals, peer-reviewed)

Forthcoming article

Under revision

  •  “Blackberry Girls and (In)Appropriate Calls. Morality, Connectivity and Personhood in Kinshasa’s Mobile Phone Culture”
  • “(Not) Talking like a Motorola. Practices of Masking and Unmasking in Kinshasa’s Mobile Phone Culture”
  • “ ‘Nous avons besoin d’ouvrir le pays’ : le développement et le scénario clef du point de vue chrétien dans l’espace social des séries télévisées de Kinshasa”

In preparation

  •  “Caring for ‘Worthless’ People. Kinshasa’s Retirement Homes between the Family, the Church and the State”
  • “To Repair or not to Repair: Unusable Communication Objects and the Experience of the (Once) Modern”

Articles (international journals, not peer-reviewed)

  • 2010 “Exchange and Circulation. An Anthropological Perspective on Video Stores in Kinshasa”. Media Fields Online Journal 1 (1) – special issue on Video Stores, ed. J. Neve
  • 2009 “Audience Participation and Performance in the Production of Kinshasa’s Television Serials”. Explorations into the Dynamics of the Cultural Public Sphere in a Central African Megapolis. Recherches en Communications. Special issue on “Media and the Symbolic Public Sphere” Editor Marc Lits, Vol. 29, pp. 28-36.
  • 2006 From Working Citizen to Praying Christian. Or, Converted Visual Politics in Postcolonial Kinshasa. A Prior Magazine. Extra Issue #1 – accompanying the symposium “Making Sense in the City”, Ghent, 17-20/12/2006, pp. 89-96.
  • 2004 Transgressiviteit in rituelen van Vlaamse Wicca’s. VolksKU nde, vol. 105, No.3, pp.243-273.

Book chapters (international publishers, peer-reviewed)

Forthcoming book chapters

  • 2014 “Brokers of Belonging. Elders and Intermediaries in Kinshasa’s Mobile Phone Culture”, in From Media Audiences to Users. Everyday Media in Africa, eds. Winston Mano and Wendy Willems, Routledge, Chapter 4 (invited book chapter, accepted)
  • 2014 “The Heart of Man. Pentecostal Emotive Style in and beyond Kinshasa's Media World”, in New Media and Religious Transformations in Africa, Rosalind Hackett and Benjamin Soares, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, accepted. (invited book chapter)
  • 2014 “The Liveliness of Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity in Africa”, to be published in “Global Pentecostal Charismatic Studies: Africa”, ed. Martin Lindhardt, Leiden: Brill Publishers. (invited book chapter)

Book reviews

  • 2012 In: Research in African Literatures 43 (4), 187-188. Review of H. Englund, Human Rights and African Airwaves. Mediating Equality on the Chichewa Radio, 2011, Bloomington: Indiana University Press.2011, Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  • 2011 In: Ecquid Novi: African Journalism Studies 32 (2), 135-137. Review of K. Njogu and J. Middleton (eds.), Media and Identity in Africa, 2009, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.
  • 2009 In: JAMS-Journal of African Media Studies 1 (3), 493-495. Review of De Bruijn, M., Nyamnjoh, F. and I. Brinkman (eds.), Mobile Phones. The New Talking Drums of Everyday Africa, 2009, Bamenda & Leiden, Langaa & ASC.
  • 2008 in: Visual Anthropology. Review of Meyer, B. and A. Moors (eds.). 2006. Religion, Media and the Public Sphere. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  • 2008 Invited review for the e-list H-Pentecostalism: Paul Gifford. Ghana's New Christianity: Pentecostalism in a Globalising African Economy. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004. xv + 216 pp.
  • 2006 In: Visual Anthropology. 19(5): 475-477. Bayart, Jean-François, The Illusion of Cultural Identity. London, C. Hurst & Co 2005, 303pp.
  • 2004 African Studies Quarterly. 8(2) Joseph Adjaye, Boundaries of Self and Other in Ghanaian Popular Culture. Westport CT: Praeger, 2004, 195pp. – electronic journal

Film reviews

  • 2013 film review of Dollars and Dreams. West Africans in New York – published on Anthropology Review Database
  • 2013 film review of Burning in the Sun – published on Anthropology Review Database