- Interaction between West Africa and the cultures of the Middle East
- Art and religion
- Material and visual cultures of Africa
- Contemporary visual practices of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church
- A diachronic study of Tano worship in Ghana
Raymond Silverman is a historian of the visual cultures of Africa. Most of his research writing has been undertaken in Ghana and Ethiopia, where he has explored a range of subjects dealing with historical and social dimensions of metallurgy and the visual culture of religion, specifically of Islam and indigenous religions in Ghana, and the Orthodox Church in Ethiopia. His publications include two books dealing with Ethiopian art, Ethiopia: Traditions of Creativity (1999) and Painting Ethiopia: The Life and Work of Qes Adamu Tesfaw (2005) as well as articles and essays dealing with a range of topics focused on the arts of Ghana, Ethiopia, museums and heritage. He is currently working on a book project, Icons of Devotion, Icons of Trade, dealing with the contemporary visual practices of the Orthodox Church in northern Ethiopia. He joined the faculty at University of Michigan in 2002 to launch a new interdisciplinary graduate program in Museum Studies—he stepped down as Director of the program in 2012.