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Professor Thomas Cousins

Tutorial Fellow in Human Sciences

As the Clarendon-Lienhardt Associate Professor in the Social Anthropology of Africa, my  research interests include African anthropology, medical anthropology, science studies, kinship and sexuality, ordinary language, and labour/value. I am an anthropologist of southern Africa with a particular interest in health, labour, and kinship, especially nutrition and pharmaceuticals and their attendant forms of value and life. My fieldwork to date has been in South Africa on topics including global health surveillance, welfare, communications technologies, and zoonosis. My book, titled The Work of Repair: Amandla and Capacity in the Timber Plantations of South Africa, will be published by Fordham University Press in 2023.

I am currently working on an ethnography of the emerging category of “post-tuberculosis” as a new framework for understanding life after “cure” from tuberculosis among young people. I continue to work on a range of projects concerned with health, environment, and livelihoods, including non-human life in relation to new forms of the urban; metabolism, quality of life, immunity, and living with viruses – in short, how various forms of life are composed and integrated in ordinary life.

As well as contributing to the anthropology of southern Africa and health, my research engages with the anthropology of food and pharmaceuticals, the microbiome and non-human relations, and the governance of life in the global south.

Recent publications:

2022 – With Michelle Pentecost and Lesley van Helden. 2022. Containment and Conversion: Urban livelihoods and the circulation of value amid South Africa’s avian influenza outbreak. American Ethnologist

2021 – With Michelle Pentecost, Alexandra Alvergne, Clare Chandler, Simukai Chigudu, Clare Herrick, Ann Kelly, Sabina Leonelli, Javier Lezaun, and Jamie Lorimer. 2021. “The Changing Climates of Global Health.” BMJ Global Health 6 (3): e005442.

2018 – Anthropology and the Development of Conscience: Reflections on the work of Pamela Reynolds. In: The Ways We Stretch Toward One Another: Thoughts on Anthropology through the Work of Pamela Reynolds. T Meyers (ed). Bamenda: Langaa Research and Publishing.

2017 – With Michelle Pentecost. Strata of the Political: Epigenetic and Microbial Imaginaries in Post-apartheid Cape Town. Antipode 49 (5): 1368-1384.

2016 – Antiretroviral Therapy and Nutrition in Southern Africa: Citizenship and the Grammar of Hunger, Medical Anthropology.(Special Issue, “The Politics and Practices of Evidence-Based Medicine: a Critical Discussion between STS and Medical Anthropology”)

2016 – Sex, Gender, and Kinship in the Timber Plantations of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: A Minor Otherwise. Social Dynamics 42(1).

2015 – A Mediating Capacity: Toward an Anthropology of the Gut. Medicine Anthropology Theory 2 (2): 1-27

2015 – HIV and the Remaking of Hunger and Nutrition in South Africa: Biopolitical Specification After Apartheid. BioSocieties 10, 143–161

2014 – Knowledge of life: health, strength and labour in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Anthropology Southern Africa 37 (1-2): 30-41

Tutorial Fellow in Human Sciences
Human Sciences
Academic - Fellows & Lecturers