Dr Katrien Pype

Dr Katrien Pype

Department of African Studies and Anthropology
Honorary Research 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.

Postgraduate supervision

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

Find out more - our PhD African Studies  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


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 currently guide a team working on technology cultures in urban DR Congo and beyond (1960-present), in which 5 doctoral and postdoctoral scholars and myself will produce ethnographies of medical, energy and communication cultures in Kinshasa (DR Congo), Kikwit (DR Congo) and Nakuru (Kenya). These projects are funded by an Odysseus grant (FWO G.A005.14N) and an FWO-ERC-Runner Up Budget (FWO G.0.E65.14N). 

Tying in with my personal subproject on communication cultures in Kinshasa, I am also involved in a comparative research program on >New Media Practices in a Changing in Africa, coordinated by Prof. Dr. Jo Helle-Valle (Development Studies at HiOA, Norway) and funded by the Norwegian Research Council.

Other activities



Articles (international journals, peer reviewed)

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. Volkskunde, vol. 105, No.3, pp.243-273. 

Book chapters (international publishers, peer-reviewed)

Forthcoming book chapters

  • 2018. “The devil is in the rumba text. Commenting on digital depth”. In Palgrave Handbook for Media and Communication Research in Africa, ed. B. Mutsvairo.
  • 2017. “The Rise and Downfall of a Marial Cult: Media and Religious Competition in Postcolonial Kinshasa”, to be included in a book on Religion, Media and Marginalization in Africa since 1800, edited by F. Becker and J. Cabrita, Ohio University Press, Cambridge Centre of African Studies Series 
  • 2017 “The Witchcraft Complex. Brahnamist Christianity and the Urban Occult in Kinshasa”, in Pentecostalism and Witchcraft. Comparative Perspectives, eds. Knut Rio, Ruy Blanes and Michelle MacCarthy, Palgrave MacMillan.

Book chapters (international publishers, not peer-reviewed)

  • 2014 ‘Media as Technologies of Enchantment1 Initial Comparisons between Kimbanguist and Pentecostal Media Pedagogies’ In: E. Mbokolo and K. Sabakinu (eds.). Simon Kimbangu. Le Prophete de la Liberation de l’Homme Noir. Tome 1 + 2. Paris: L’Harmattan, Tome 2, pp. 135-159.

Edited volumes (international publishers, peer-reviewed)

  • 2016 Ethnos: Journal of Anthropologyahead of print “Media on the Move. Ethnographies of Communication and Connectivity in Africa” (with Richard Vokes)
  • 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, Tervuren)
  • 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)

Book reviews

  • 2014 On: Anthrocyb – The Anthropology of Christianity Bibliographic Blog. Review of J. Kidula, Music in Kenyan Christianity: Logooli Religious Song. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 

  • 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