Jean Comaroff

Jean Comaroff

Member of the Advisory Council
Jean Comaroff

Jean Comaroff is an anthropologist and theorist of Africa and the Global South, currently the Alfred North Whitehead Professor of African and African American Studies and of Anthropology at Harvard University.

Her intellectual interests range across theory and method, embodiment and commodification, ritual and religion, medicine, politics and ideology, crime and forensics, and colonialism in Africa. Educated at the University of Cape Town and the London School of Economics, Comaroff was a research fellow in medical Anthropology at the University of Manchester, before she moved to the University of Chicago as the Bernard E. and Ellen C. Sunny Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory. Her research, primarily conducted in southern Africa, has centered on processes of social and cultural transformation – the making and unmaking of colonial society, the nature of the postcolony, the late modern world viewed from the Global South.

Her writing has covered a range of topics, from religion, medicine and body politics to state formation, crime, democracy and difference. Her publications include Body of Power, Spirit of Resistance: The Culture and History of a South African People (Chicago, 1985), “Beyond the Politics of Bare Life: AIDS and the Global Order” (Public Culture, 2007), Of Revelation and Revolution (Chicago, vols. l [1991] and ll [1997]); Ethnography and the Historical Imagination (Routledge, 1992); Millennial Capitalism and the Culture of Neoliberalism (Duke University Press, 2000), Law and Disorder in the Postcolony (Chicago, 2006), Ethnicity, Inc. (Chicago, 2009), Theory from the South, or How Euro-America is Evolving Toward Africa (Routledge, 2011), The Truth about Crime Sovereignty, Knowledge, Social Order (Chicago, 2016), and The Politics of Custom Chiefship, Capital, and the State in Contemporary Africa (Chicago, 2018). Recently, she co-edited Ethnicity, Commodity, In/Corporation (Indiana University Press, 2020). In the pipeline is The Return of Khulekane Khumalo, Zombie Captive: Law, Imposture, and Personhood in Postcolonial South Africa.

A committed pedagogue, she has won awards for teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, including the Univeristy of Chicago's Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award, and has worked to enable college students to study abroad, especially in Africa.

Contact Information

Tozzer Anthropology Building 206
21 Divinity Ave.
Cambridge MA 02138