Brown University
International Relations
Gregory Duff Morton

Gregory Duff Morton
+1 401 863 9796
Watson 354

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Gregory Duff Morton

Postdoctoral Fellow in International and Public Affairs

Areas of Interest: Economic anthropology, linguistic anthropology methods, international social work and social policy, conditional cash transfers, anthropology of Brazil, social movements, peasant studies.


Gregory Duff Morton is an economic anthropologist and postdoctoral fellow at the Watson Institute. He studies the movements of money through Northeastern Brazil. He considers the urban-to-rural reverse migrations of agricultural laborers, the wanderings of itinerant countryside merchants, and the payouts that come from the world’s largest national cash welfare program, Bolsa Família. His articles have appeared in American Ethnologist, Journal of Peasant Studies, and Brasil de Fato. He is currently working on a manuscript titled Leaving Labor: Reverse Migration, Welfare Cash, and the Specter of the Commodity in Northeastern Brazil.


Currently, Duff Morton is carrying out an ethnography of economic growth. This project examines the social process of leaving labor – in the midst of an economic boom. Why do laborers leave? What can their departure teach us about the structure of social inequality? Research begins by traveling alongside workers who quit their urban jobs and return to homes in rural Brazil. In this reverse-flow migration, a key resource turns out to be the money that the federal government disburses through Bolsa Família, a giant conditional cash transfer that reaches one quarter of Brazil’s population. Bolsa Família is only one of the many streams of value that rural Brazilians redirect in order to build a world precariously balanced between the managed time of the city and the open space of the countryside, between labor and its opposite.



Morton, Gregory Duff. “Managing transience: Bolsa Família and its subjects in an MST landless settlement.” Journal of Peasant Studies, in press (2015).

Morton, Gregory Duff. “Modern meetings: Participation, democracy, and language ideology in Brazil’s MST landless movement.” American Ethnologist, 41(4): 728-742 (2014).

Morton, Gregory Duff. “Protest before the protests: The unheard politics of a welfare panic in Brazil.” Anthropological Quarterly, 87(3): 925-933 (2014).              

Morton, Gregory Duff. “Acesso à permanência: diferenças econômicas e práticas de gênero em domicílios que recebem Bolsa Família no sertão baiano.” (“Accessing permanence: economic difference and gender practice among households that receive Bolsa Família in the backlands of Bahia, Brazil.”) Política e Trabalho, 38: 43-67 (2013).

Morton, Gregory Duff. Book review of Microcredit and Its Discontents (Lamia Karim). Social Service Review, 86(2): 350-353 (2012).