Watson Institute at Brown University
Africa Initiative
Daniel Jordan Smith

Daniel Jordan Smith

+1 401 863 1938
280 Brook Street, Room 213


Downloadable CV

Daniel Jordan Smith

Charles C. Tillinghast, Jr. ’32 Professor of International Studies
Professor of Anthropology
Director of the Africa Initiative

Areas of Interest: Nigeria, Africa, development, medical anthropology, gender, population processes, infrastructure, corruption


Daniel Jordan Smith received a bachelor's degree in sociology from Harvard University in 1983, a master's degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University in 1989, and a PhD in anthropology from Emory University in 1999. Smith has been a member of the Department of Anthropology at Brown since 2001 and is also affiliated with the Population Studies and Training Center. He is the author of four books, A Culture of Corruption: Everyday Deception and Popular Discontent in Nigeria (Princeton, 2007; winner of the Margaret Mead Award); The Secret: Love, Marriage and HIV (Vanderbilt, 2009; co-authored); AIDS Doesn't Show Its Face: Inequality, Morality, and Social Change in Nigeria (Chicago, 2014; winner of the Elliott P. Skinner Award), and To Be a Man Is Not a One-Day Job: Masculinity, Money, and Intimacy in Nigeria (Chicago, 2017). He has co-convened seven Brown International Advanced Research Institutes (BIARIs), on Development and Inequality,  Population and Development, and Health and Social Change in Africa. Smith has been Director of Watson’s Africa Initiative since 2016 and he was Chair of the Department of Anthropology from 2012-2019.


Broadly, Professor Smith's research focuses on understanding the intersection of social change and social reproduction, particularly as it unfolds in population processes and health-related behavior. Smith’s work also examines political culture in Nigeria, especially issues related to inequality and development. Much of this work focuses on understanding the intersection of social imagination, politics, and contemporary issues in Nigeria, including democracy, violence, vigilantism, and corruption. His first book, A Culture of Corruption: Everyday Deception and Popular Discontent in Nigeria, examines ordinary Nigerians' participation in corruption, even as they are its main victims and its loudest critics. His second book, a co-authored volume, The Secret: Love, Marriage, and HIV, presents comparative findings from a five-country study of gender and HIV risk. Smith’s second single-authored book, AIDS Doesn’t Show Its Face: Inequality, Morality, and Social Change in Nigeria, analyzes popular responses to the AIDS epidemic as a prism to understand wider phenomena. His most recent book, To Be a Man Is Not a One-Day Job: Masculinity, Money, and Intimacy in Nigeria, focuses on men’s lives in Nigeria, exploring the intertwining dynamics of money and intimacy, as gender sits at the center of complex social transformations. His current research project examines how Nigerians’ entrepreneurial and informal economic responses to failed infrastructure and woeful social services paradoxically constitute a key arena for the exercise of state power and the everyday experience of citizenship.


Forthcoming.     Every Household Its Own Government: Improvised Infrastructure, Entrepreneurial Citizens, and the State in Nigeria. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Anticipated publication date: March 8, 2022.

2021   “The Pentecostal Prosperity Gospel in Nigeria: Paradoxes of Corruption and Inequality.” Journal of Modern African Studies 59(1):103-122.

2020   “Masculinity, Money, and the Postponement of Parenthood in Nigeria.” Population and Development Review 46(1):101-120.

2019   “Sociality, Money, and the Making of Masculine Privilege in Nigerian Sports Clubs.” In Africa Every Day: Fun, Leisure, and Expressive Culture on the Continent, Kemi Balogun, Lisa Gilman, Melissa Graboyes, and Habib Iddrisu, eds. Ohio University Press, pp. 93-102.

2018 .  “Corruption and ‘Culture’ in Anthropology and in Nigeria.” Current Anthropology 59(S18):S83-S91.

2018   “Progress and Setbacks in Nigeria’s Anticorruption Efforts.” In Oxford Handbook of Nigerian Politics, Carl LeVan and Patrick Ukata, eds. Oxford University Press, pp. 288-301.

2017   To Be a Man Is Not a One-Day Job: Masculinity, Money, and Intimacy in Nigeria. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Recent courses taught:

Anthropology 1320: Anthropology and International Development: Ethnographic Perspectives on Poverty and Progress (fall 2018)

Anthropology 1310: International Health: Anthropological Perspectives (spring 2018)

Anthropology 66J: So You want to Change the World? (fall 2016)

Anthropology 100: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (spring 2014)

Anthropology 110: Anthropology of Global Social Problems (fall 2014)