Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Daniel Jordan Smith

Faculty Fellow
Professor and Chair of Anthropology

Areas of Interest: Medical anthropology, political culture, anthropology and population, gender, migration, corruption, HIV/AIDS, development, Nigeria, sub-Saharan Africa.


Daniel Jordan Smith received a bachelor's degree in sociology from Harvard University in 1983, a master's degree in public health from The 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 three 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); and AIDS Doesn't Show Its Face: Inequality, Morality, and Social Change in Nigeria (Chicago, 2014). Smith is a co-PI on the IGERT grant for the Graduate Program in Development and member of the faculty steering committee for the Development Studies concentration. He has co-convened five Brown International Advanced Research Institutes (BIARIs), on Development and Inequality and Population and Development.


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. Most recently, Smith completed a study of the ways that Pentecostal Christianity in Nigeria has intersected with the AIDS epidemic, looking at the seemingly paradoxical role of these popular churches in both exacerbating stigma and offering important places of support for people living with HIV. 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(Princeton University Press, 2007), for which he received the 2008 Margaret Mead Award, 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 (Vanderbilt University Press, 2009), presents comparative findings from a five-country study of gender and HIV risk. Professor Smith’s most recent book, AIDS Doesn’t Show Its Face: Inequality, Morality, and Social Change in Nigeria (University of Chicago Press, 2014) analyzes popular responses to the AIDS epidemic as a prism to understand wider phenomena. His current book project focuses on masculinity in Nigeria, exploring the intertwining dynamics of money and intimacy, as gender sits at the center of complex social transformations.



“Corruption Complaints, Inequality, and Ethnic Grievances in Post-Biafra Nigeria.” Third World Quarterly. 35(5):787-802.

“AIDS and the Moral Economies of Global Aid.” In Medical Anthropology in Global Africa: Current Orientations in Scholarship & Practice, Kathryn Rhine, John Janzen, Glenn Adams, and Heather Aldersey, eds. University of Kansas Publications in Anthropology, pp. 73-77.

“Fatherhood, Companionate Marriage, and the Contradictions of Masculinity in Nigeria” in Globalized Fatherhood, Marcia Inhorn, Wendy Chavkin and José-Alberto Navarro, eds. Berghahn Books, pp. 315-335.         

AIDS Doesn’t Show Its Face: Inequality, Morality, and Social Change in Nigeria. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

“From Favors to Bribes: The Social Context of Corruption in Nigeria.” In How to Pay a Bribe: Thinking Like a Criminal to Thwart Bribery Schemes, 2014 Edition, Alexandra Wrage & Severin Wirz, editors, TRACE International, pp. 84-94.


“AIDS NGOS and Corruption in Nigeria.” Health & Place. 18(3):475-480.


“Benefiting from AIDS in Contemporary Nigeria.” Anthropology Now. 3(3):1-9.

“Rural-to-Urban Migration, Kinship Networks, and Fertility among the Igbo in Nigeria.” African Population Studies. 25(2):320-336.

“Stretched and Strained but Not Broken: Kinship in Contemporary Nigeria.” In Frontiers of Globalization: Kinship and Family Structures in Africa, Ana Marta González, Laurie de Rose, and  Florence Oloo, eds. Africa World Press, pp 31-69.


Recent courses taught:

Anthropology 100: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (spring 2014)

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

Anthropology 1310: International Health: Anthropological Perspectives (spring 2013)