I am a cultural anthropologist focused on political and urban dynamics in Africa. My work explores how the idea of the state is imagined and made real in the context of South Sudan, where I have been doing ethnographic research since 2012, one year after it became the world’s newest nation-state. My research explores how ethnic identity, humanitarian governance, conflict, sovereignty, and ideas of the future manifest in everyday urban life in Africa. In doing so, I explore the persistence of the idea of the state in postcolonial contexts and a neoliberal moment that in many ways has become “post-state.”
At NC State, I teach Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Political Anthropology, Medical Anthropology, Urban Anthropology, and Research Methods in Cultural Anthropology. I have previously taught at the University of California, Davis and the University of Juba in South Sudan.
I am currently revising a book manuscript, The Post-State State: Soverignty, Futurity, and Urban Life in South Sudan, and conducting two collaborative research projects. One project is a study of a small-scale money-transfer network with centers throughout northern and eastern Africa. The network is run by South Sudanese humanitarian professionals who aim to disrupt aid dependency by offering an alternative financial infrastructure to South Sudanese displaced by the ongoing political conflict in South Sudan. I use the network as a vantage point to understand the ongoing creation of communities of displaced South Sudanese and ways people generate new forms of work and exchange outside of state-driven directives and humanitarian governance. I am also continuing to collaborate with a Ugandan artist and art therapist I met while working with the Peace Corps in Uganda. I am documenting his visual representations of South Sudan and northern Uganda as well as his long-term use of art therapy among youth impacted by the Lord’s Resistance Army conflict.
As an Affiliate Graduate Faculty Member, I teach courses that carry graduate credit and advise students in the M.A. program in Anthropology.
“How Thöŋ Piny Became Juba Na Bari: Placemaking and Social Memory in Urban South Sudan” (under revision)
“Returning, Remaining and Remaking: Urban Space in Post-conflict Transition,” co-authored with Naseem Badiey, Parangolé: A Journal about the Urbanized Planet. Issue 1: 82-85.
“Improvising Juba: Productive Precarity, ‘Companies,’ and Making the Present at the Edge of the Indian Ocean World,” in Reimagining Indian Ocean Worlds, Edited by Smriti Srinivas, Bettina Ng’weno, and Neelima Jeychandran, Routledge. 2020
“Planning Amidst Precarity: Utopian Imaginings in South Sudan,” co-authored with Naseem Badiey. The Journal of Eastern African Studies, 12(2): 367-385. [https://doi.org/10.1080/17531055.2018.1408305] also in Urban Africa and Violent Conflict Edited by Karen Büscher, Routledge (2019)
Dissertation Research Fellowship, Wenner-Gren Foundation; Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, National Science Foundation
B.A. Sociology University of Chicago 2006
M.A. Social Sciences University of Chicago 2007
Ph.D. Anthropology University of California, Davis 2019
Area(s) of Expertise
Anthropology of Africa; Political Anthropology, the State, and State-Making; Urban Space and Place-Making; Ethnographic Methodology; Futurity and Temporality; Migration and Mobilities; Revolution and Post-Liberation Politics; Visual Anthropology