Assistant professor of anthropology Frederick Klaits

Frederick Klaits

Associate Professor
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Office: 364 MFAC
Phone Number: (716) 645-6388
Email Address:


Dr. Klaits' animating questions center on why, how, and with what consequences people come to feel that their well-being is or is not bound up with that of others.  His research investigates these issues in medical, religious, and political dimensions. 

Dr. Klaits has conducted long-term fieldwork in Botswana. In his book Death in a Church of Life: Moral Passion during Botswana’s Time of AIDS, he explores how members of an Apostolic healing church made efforts to sustain relationships of care and love in the context of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

He is currently engaged in a comparative project on Pentecostal insight, focusing on how believers in majority White and African American congregations in Buffalo, New York understand knowledge derived from God as essential to their well-being.  He is exploring how specific sets of anxieties associated with Whiteness and Blackness lead believers to adopt distinctive methods for obtaining insights from God into their own and others’ life circumstances.

Dr. Klaits also serves as director of the Medical Anthropology lab in the Department of Anthropology at the University at Buffalo.


PhD, Johns Hopkins University
MA, Johns Hopkins University
MA, Yale University
BA, Yale University

Research Interests and Projects

Self and other in religious practice; Care in social practice and political theory; Regimes of value; Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity; United States, southern Africa.

Courses Offered

Undergraduate Courses
APY 106 | Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
APY 199 (UB Seminar) | Why Have Wealth?
APY 275 | Culture, Health and Illness
APY 477 | Disability and Culture

Graduate Courses
APY 512 | Kinship and Social Structure
APY 575 | Special Topics: Gender and the Politics of Health in Africa
APY 578 | Ethnomedicine
APY 609 | Disability and Culture
APY 654 | Graduate Survey of Social Theory II (Contemporary)

Selected Publications


2017 The Request and the Gift in Religious and Humanitarian Endeavors, edited by Frederick Klaits. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

2010 Death in a Church of Life: Moral Passion during Botswana’s Time of AIDS. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Articles and Book Chapters

2017  "Catch the Word": Creativity, Contract, and Prophetic Confirmation in African American Pentecostalism. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 7 (3): 237-260.

2017 Asking in Time. In The Request and the Gift in Religious and Humanitarian Endeavors, edited by Frederick Klaits, pp.1-24. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

2017  “We All Ask Together”: Intercession and Composition as Models for Spiritual Kinship.” In New Directions in Spiritual Kinship: Sacred Ties across the Abrahamic Religions, edited by Todne Thomas, Asiya Malik, and Rose Wellman, pp. 131-149. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

2016 Insult and Insecurity: Discernment, Trust, and the Uncanny in Two U.S. Pentecostal Communities. Anthropological Quarterly 89(4):1143-1173.

2016 Grasping, Trust, and Truth-on-Balance. Comment on Werbner, Richard. 2015. Divination’s Grasp: African Encounters with the Almost Said. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 6(3):413-418.

2015 Valuing Black Lives: Pentecostalism, Charismatic Gifts, and Human Economies in a U.S. Inner City. Co-authored with Shenita A. McLean. American Ethnologist 42(4):610-623.

2012 Christianity in Southern Africa: The Aesthetics of Well-Being. In Introducing World Christianity, Charles Farhadian, ed. London: Blackwell.

2011 Introduction: Self, Other and God in African Christianities. Journal of Religion in Africa 41(2):143-153.

2011 Asking as Giving: Apostolic Prayers and the Aesthetics of Well-Being in Botswana. Journal of Religion in Africa 41(2):206-226.

2009 Faith and the Intersubjectivity of Care in Botswana. Africa Today 56(1):3-20.

2005 Review Essay: Postcolonial Civility. Journal of Southern African Studies 31(3):649-662.

2005 The Widow in Blue: Blood and the Morality of Remembering during Botswana’s Time of AIDS. Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 75(1):46-62.

2002 Funerals and the Public Space of Sentiment in Botswana. Co-authored with Deborah Durham. Journal of Southern African Studies 28(4):773-791.

1998 Making a Good Death: AIDS and Social Belonging in an Independent Church in Gaborone. Botswana Notes and Records 30:101-119.