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Department of Social Anthropology



I am an anthropologist from Essex in the UK. My undergraduate studies were in History (Clare College, University of Cambridge) and I converted to Anthropology in 2013 when I attended University College London for an MSc in Social and Cultural Anthropology.

My doctoral research saw me return to Kenya, where I worked briefly for UNHCR and then UNESCO between 2011 and 2012. I returned again as a Graduate Attaché at the British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA) in 2015, where I later affiliated for my fieldwork (November 2016 – July 2018, August 2019).


My doctoral research explored changing social and economic life on the peri-urban outskirts of Nairobi in southern Kiambu County brought about by an ongoing and sustained process of urbanisation. In the midst of a construction boom that creates urban sprawl out of peasant smallholdings, I study how recent changes have intensified debate about the morality of economic practices - from the sale of ancestral land to petty crime. My thesis, entitled ‘The Greedy Eaters: A moral politics of continuity and consumption in urbanising central Kenya’, discusses Kenyans’ arguments about what constitutes ‘good’ and ‘bad’ economic activity and, especially, fears and anxieties about desires for consumption (of wages, land, alcohol and people) that attack social reproduction.

Spanning a range of spaces and demographics – from rural households to unemployed urban youth – my thesis describes how local debates about economic life produce a ‘moral politics’, a terrain of moralising argument about the right way to make one’s way in the world with real consequences for those who fall afoul of established norms. It contributes towards the understanding of a changing Africa in an era of growth on the continent that continues to coexist with stark inequality, as well as anthropological debates about in economic anthropology and the anthropology of morality.

Pursuing fieldwork in the midst of Kenya’s 2017 elections also allowed me to develop insights into the country’s local and national politics, and my published and forthcoming work engages with the rich regional literature on the country’s politics from an anthropological perspective.

Research interests

Kenya and eastern Africa; economy; history; historical anthropology; money; land; kinship; morality; moral economy; labour; unemployment; informal economy; exchange; social relations; dependence; value; values; youth; crime; consumption.



Peer reviewed articles

2020. Impatient Accumulation, Immediate Consumption: Problems with Money and Hope in Central Kenya. Social Analysis 64 (1): 44-62.

2019. ‘Before there is power, there is the country’: Civic nationalism and political mobilisation amongst Kenya’s opposition coalitions, 2013-2018. Journal of Modern African Studies 57 (4): 541-561.

2019. The Buffalo and the Squirrel: moral authority and the limits of patronage in Kiambu County’s 2017 gubernatorial race. Journal of Eastern African Studies 13 (2): 353-370.

2015. 'The Solitude of the Stance: The Bodily Autology of Gym-work and Boxing in an Essex Town'. Suomen Antropologi: The Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 40 (4): 5-28.

Book Chapters

2020.  With C Smith. Economic Anthropology. In Oxford Bibliographies in African Studies. Ed. Paul Zeleza. New York: Oxford University Press.

Book Reviews

2019. Review of The Middle Class in Mozambique: The State and the Politics of Transformation in Southern Africa by Jason Sumich. Journal of Southern African Studies 45 (6): 1186-1188.

2017. Review of The politics of distinction: African elites from colonialism to liberation in a Namibian frontier town by Mattia Fumanti. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 23 (2): 422-451.

Blog posts

2017. A year of two elections. Allegra Lab: Anthropology, Law, Art, World (Accessed 23 March 2018).

2015. The Material Culture of the Boxer – a post-fieldwork reflection. Material World: A Global Hub for Thinking About Things

(Accessed 18 October 2019).

Teaching and Supervisions



Undergraduate supervision:

SAN1 – Social Anthropology: The Comparative Perspective

SAN2 – Social Anthropology: The Foundations of Social Life

SAN6: Power, economy and social transformation 

SAN8: Development, poverty and social justice

SAN13: Gender, kinship and care


Postgraduate teaching:

MPhil Paper 1 – Production and Reproduction (Anthropology of Kinship)


Affiliated Lecturer
 Peter  Lockwood (2015)

Contact Details

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