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James H. Smith

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James H. Smith


PhD University of Chicago, 2002

323 Young Department of Anthropology
University of California, Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, California 95616, USA

Fax: (530) 752-8885

Office Phone: (530) 754-0739

Office Hours for Fall 2015 :

  • Tuesday 2-5 and by appointment


  1. 2002, PhD, Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago
  2. MA, Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago
  3. BA, Anthropology and Social Thought/Political Economy, University of Massachusetts, Amherst (Commonwealth Honors College)
  4. Other: Rockefeller Fellowship in Religion, Conflict, and Peace-building at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, the University of Notre Dame (2003-04).


Research Interests

"Development" and Vernacular Development Narratives and Practices; Temporalities and Temporal Politics; Artisanal Mining and Resource Extraction; State Transformation and Conflict/War; Visible and Invisible Worlds; East and Central Africa

Recent Publications

2015 "May it Never End": Price Wars, Networks and Temporality in the "3Ts" Mining Trade of the Eastern DR Congo. In HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 5 (1), 1-35.

2014 (with Ngeti Mwadime) Email from Ngeti: An Ethnography of Sorcery, Redemption, and Friendship in Global Africa (University of California Press)

2011 Tantalus in the Digital Age: Coltan ore, temporal dispossession, and "movement" in the Eastern DR Congo. American Ethnologist, Volume 38, Number 1, pp. 17-35

2011  Displacing the State: Religion and Conflict in Neoliberal Africa (editor, with Rosalind Hackett), University of Notre Dame Press.

2011  Religious Dimensions of Conflict and Peace in Neoliberal Africa: An Introduction (introduction to Displacing the State, University of Notre Dame Press).

2011  Making Peace with the Devil:  The Political Life of Devil Worship Rumors in Kenya (in Displacing the State, University of Notre Dame Press).

2008 Bewitching Development: Witchcraft and the Reinvention of Development in Neoliberal Kenya (the University of Chicago Press, Practices of Meaning Series).

2006 Snake-Driven Development: Nature, Culture and Religious Conflict in Neo-liberal Kenya, Ethnography, Volume 7, No. 4: pp. 423-459.

2006 (with Jeffrey Mantz), Do Cell Phones Dream of Civl War?:  The Mystification of Production and the Consequences of Technology Fetishism in the Eastern Congo and Beyond, in Inclusion and Exclusion in the Global Arena, Max Kirsch, ed. (Routledge).

2005, Buying a Better Witch Doctor: Witchcraft, Globalization, and the Crisis of Sustainable Development in Taita, Kenya, American Ethnologist, 32, 1, 141-158

2004 [2001], Of Spirit Possession and Structural Adjustment Programs: Education, Government Downsizing, and their Enchantments in Neoliberal Kenya, in Producing African Futures, Brad Weiss, ed. (Brill).  Originally published in Journal of Religion in Africa, 31, 4, pp. 427-456

1998, Njama's Supper: The Consumption and Use of Literary Commodities by Mau Mau Insurgents in Colonial Kenya, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 40, pp. 524-48.

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Dept. of Anthropology

328 Young Hall
One Shields Ave.
University of California
Davis, Ca 95616-8522

Ph.  530-752-0745
Fax. 530-752-8885