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)
December 24, 2022
Daniel Smith comments for Insider, "They have a lot of awareness about what the world has to offer, but great frustration that they can't find it for themselves because of unemployment and other thwarted opportunities to make a living."
March 18, 2022
Under The Table Podcast
Daniel Smith explains how Nigerians understand corruption, its place in their national culture, and Nigerians' efforts to fight it in an interview on Under The Table Podcast.
April 21, 2020
In April 2020, three Brown University faculty members won fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Professor of anthropology Daniel Jordan Smith was among the 175 new fellows chosen from a field of nearly 3,000 applicants.
November 30, 2017
In his new book, Faculty Fellow Daniel Jordan Smith draws on twenty-five years of experience in southeastern Nigeria to analyze masculinity and society in Nigeria.
October 2, 2015
Daniel J. Smith’s AIDS Doesn’t Show Its Face: Inequality, Morality, and Social Change in Nigeria (U Chicago Press, 2014) wins the 2015 Association for Africanist Anthropology AfAA award.
May 28, 2014
Daniel Smith, associate professor of anthropology, appears on an episode of "The White House Chronicle," to discuss the current state of Africa and how our "representations of what's happening on the continent often don't do justice to what's happening on the ground."
January 29, 2011
From the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting this week in Davos, Switzerland, to popular protests across Egypt, inequality is increasingly the watchword for global leaders and local activists alike. In this time of growing emphasis, the Watson Institute’s five-year-old strategic focus on inequality represents the vanguard of academic research and training, producing new analysis and next-generation leadership to address a pressing problem.