Daniel Jordan Smith Royce Family Professor of Teaching Excellence, Professor of Anthropology

Daniel Jordan Smith joined the Department of Anthropology at Brown University in July 2001. He received an AB in Sociology from Harvard University (1983), an MPH from Johns Hopkins University (1989), and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Emory University (1999). Smith conducts research in Nigeria focusing on a range of issues, including social change, political culture, kinship, and health. He won the 2008 Margaret Mead Award for his book, A Culture of Corruption: Everyday Deception and Popular Discontent in Nigeria (Princeton University Press, 2007). Professor Smith’s most recent book, AIDS Doesn’t Show Its Face: Inequality, Morality, and Social Change in Nigeria (University of Chicago Press, 2014) won the 2015 Elliott P. Skinner Award from the Association for Africanist Anthropology. The book analyzes popular responses to the AIDS epidemic as a prism to understand wider phenomena. Smith has completed several research projects with grants awarded by NSF and NIH, with a major focus in the HIV epidemic in Nigeria. He was the recipient of the 2007-9 William C. McGloughlin Award for Teaching Excellence in the Social Sciences. From 2006-2011 he was Associate Director of the Population Studies and Training Center. He is currently Chair of the Anthropology Department.

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas

scholarly work

2014. AIDS Doesn’t Show Its Face: Inequality, Morality, and Social Change in Nigeria. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

2014.  “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.

2012. “AIDS NGOS and Corruption in Nigeria.” Health & Place. 18(3):475-480.

2011. “Benefiting from AIDS in Contemporary Nigeria.” Anthropology Now. 3(3):1-9.

2011. “Rural-to-Urban Migration, Kinship Networks, and Fertility among the Igbo in Nigeria.” African Population Studies. 25(2):320-336.

2011. “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.

2010. "Promiscuous Girls, Good Wives, and Cheating Husbands: Gender Inequality, Transitions to Marriage, and Infidelity in Southeastern Nigeria." Anthropological Quarterly 81(1):123-152.

2010. "Corruption, NGOs, and Development in Nigeria." Third World Quarterly 32(2):243-258.

2010. Smith, D. and B. Mbakwem. "Antiretroviral Therapy and Reproductive Life Projects: Mitigating the Stigma of AIDS in Nigeria." Social Science & Medicine. 71(2):345-352.

2010. "Nigerian Scams as Political Critique: Globalization, Inequality and 419." In Perspectives on Africa: A Reader in Culture, History, & Representation, Richard Grinker, Stephen Lubkemann, and Christopher Steiner, eds. Blackwell Publishers, pp. 616-628.

2010. "Migration, Gender, and Sexual Economies: Young Female Rural-Urban Migrants in Nigeria." In International Handbook on Gender and Poverty (Sylvia Chant, ed.), Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 290-295.

2009. "Managing Men, Marriage and Modern Love: Women's Perspectives on Intimacy and Male Infidelity in Southeastern Nigeria." In Love in Africa, Jennifer Cole and Lynn Thomas, eds. University of Chicago Press, pp.157-180.

2009 The Secret: Love, Marriage, and HIV. (Co-authored with Jennifer S. Hirsch, Holly Wardlow, Harriet Phinney, Shanti Parikh and Constance A. Nathanson.) Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press.

2009. "The Paradoxes of Popular Participation in Corruption in Nigeria." In Corruption, Global Security, and World Order, Robert Rotberg, ed. Brookings Institution Press, pp.283-309.

2009. "Migration, Men's Extramarital Sex and the Risk of HIV Infection in Nigeria." In Mobility, Sexuality and AIDS,, Felicity Thomas, Mary Haour-Knipe, and Peter Aggleton, eds. Routledge, pp.187-198.

2008. "Cell Phones, Sharing, and Social Status in an African Society." In Applying Cultural Anthropology: An Introductory Reader, 8th Edition, Aaron Podolefsky, Peter Brown and Scott Lacy, eds. McGraw-Hill, pp.254-260.

2008. Mbakwem, B. and D. Smith. "'Returned to Sender': Corruption in International Health." In The Practice of International Health: A Case-Based Orientation, Daniel Perlman and Ananya Roy, eds. Oxford University Press, pp.217-230.

2008. "Intimacy, Infidelity, and Masculinity in Southeastern Nigeria." In Intimacies: Love and Sex Across Cultures, William Jankowiak, ed. Columbia University Press, pp.224-244.

2007. A Culture of Corruption: Everyday Deception and Popular Discontent in Nigeria. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

2007. "Modern Marriage, Men's Extramarital Sex, and HIV Risk in Nigeria." American Journal of Public Health 97(6):997-1005.

2007. "Corruption, Culture Politique et Démocratie au Nigeria: Réactions Populaires à la Croisade Anti-corruption du Président Obasanjo." Politique Africaine 106:28-45.

2007. Smith, D. and B. Mbakwem. "Life Projects and Therapeutic Itineraries: Marriage, Fertility, and Antiretroviral Therapy in Nigeria." AIDS 21(suppl 5):S37-S41.

2007. "Café Crimes: The Young Struggle-Men Who Want Your Money." WorldView Spring 2007:33-35.

2006. "Cell Phones, Social Inequality, and Contemporary Culture in Southeastern Nigeria." Canadian Journal of African Studies 40(3):496-523.

2006. Smith, D. and B. Mbakwem. "Love, Marriage and Positive Living." Sexuality in Africa 3(4):4-6.

2006. "Violent Vigilantism and the State in Nigeria: The Case of the Bakassi Boys." In States of Violence: Politics, Youth, and Memory in Contemporary Africa, Edna Bay and Donald Donham, eds. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, pp.127-147.

2006. "Love and the Risk of HIV: Courtship, Marriage and Infidelity in Southeastern Nigeria." In Modern Loves: The Anthropology of Romantic Courtship and Companionate Marriage, Jennifer Hirsch and Holly Wardlow, eds. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, pp.137-153.

2006. "Internal Migration and the Escalation of Ethnic and Religious Violence in Urban Nigeria." In Cities in Contemporary Africa, Martin Murray and Garth Meyers, eds. Palgrave, pp.53-69.

2005. "Legacies of Biafra: Marriage, 'Home People' and Human Reproduction among the Igbo of Nigeria." Africa 75(1):30-45.

2005. White, M., E. Tagoe, C. Stiff, K. Adazu, and D. Smith. "Urbanization and the Fertility Transition in Ghana." Population Research and Policy Review 24(1):59-83.

2004. "The Bakassi Boys: Vigilantism, Violence and Political Imagination in Nigeria." Cultural Anthropology 19(3):429-455.

2004. "Burials and Belonging in Nigeria: Rural-Urban Relations and Social Inequality in a Contemporary African Ritual." American Anthropologist 106(3):569-579.

2004. "Contradictions in Nigeria's Fertility Transition: The Burdens and Benefits of Having People." Population and Development Review 30(2):221-238.

2004. "Youth, Sin and Sex in Nigeria: Christianity and HIV-related Beliefs and Behaviour among Rural-Urban Migrants." Culture, Health & Sexuality 6(5):425-437.

2004. "Premarital Sex, Procreation and HIV Risk in Nigeria." Studies in Family Planning 35(4):223-235.

2004. "HIV/AIDS in Nigeria: The Challenges of a National Epidemic." In Crafting the New Nigeria: Confronting the Challenges, Robert Rotberg, ed. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, pp.199-217.

2004. "Igbo." In The Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender: Men and Women in the World's Cultures, Carol R. Ember and Melvin Ember, eds. New York: Kluwer/Plenum, pp.508-517.

2003. "Patronage, Per Diems and 'The Workshop Mentality': The Practice of Family Planning Programs in Southeastern Nigeria." World Development 31(4):703-715.

2003. "Imagining HIV/AIDS: Morality and Perceptions of Personal Risk in Nigeria." Medical Anthropology 22(4):343-372.

2002. "'Man No Be Wood': Gender and Extramarital Sex in Contemporary Southeastern Nigeria." The Ahfad Journal 19(2):4-23.

2001. "Ritual Killing, '419' and Fast Wealth: Inequality and the Popular Imagination in Southeastern Nigeria." American Ethnologist 28(4):1-24.

2001. "Kinship and Corruption in Contemporary Nigeria." Ethnos 66(3):344-364.

2001. "Romance, Parenthood and Gender in a Modern African Society." Ethnology 40(2):129-151.

2001. "'The Arrow of God': Pentecostalism, Inequality and the Supernatural in Southeastern Nigeria." Africa 71(4):587-613.

2000. "'These Girls Today Na War-O': Premarital Sexuality and Modern Identity in Southeastern Nigeria." Africa Today 47(3-4):98-120.

1996. Brown, P., M. Inhorn, and D. Smith. "Disease, Ecology and Human Behavior." In Medical Anthropology: Contemporary Theory and Methods, Revised Edition, C. Sargent and T. Johnson, eds. Westport, CT: Praeger, pp.183-218.

research overview

Professor Smith conducts research in medical anthropology, anthropological demography, and political anthropology in sub-Saharan Africa, with a specific focus on Nigeria. His research in medical and demographic anthropology includes work on HIV/AIDS, reproductive health and behavior, adolescent sexuality, marriage, kinship, and rural-urban migration. His work on political culture in Nigeria includes studies of patron-clientism, Pentecostal Christianity, vigilantism, and corruption.

research statement

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. Completed research projects have investigated the influence of migration on family organization and reproductive behavior as people live across rural-urban boundaries. Smith has also studied the effects of rural-urban migration on sexual behavior and HIV risk among adolescents and unmarried young adults. He led the Nigeria component of an NIH-supported, five-country comparative ethnographic study entitled "Love, Marriage, and HIV." The research examined the changing expectations and pragmatics of modern marriage, documenting and analyzing the organization and opportunity structures of extramarital relationships, investigating how gender is configured in contemporary sexual and romantic relationships, and evaluating the effect of these patterns on the transmission of HIV. More 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 the five-country study described above. Professor Smith’s most recent book, AIDS Doesn’t Show Its Face: Inequality, Morality, and Social Change in Nigeria (University of Chicago Press, 2014), for which he received the 2015 Elliott P. Skinner Award, 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.

funded research

Completed Grants
Pentecostal and Charismatic Research Initiative, Center for Religion and Civic Culture, University of Southern California, funded by the Templeton Foundation (Grant # 13893, Subcontract # 143426; $80,898; 05/1/2010 – 05/31/2012). Key Investigator for a study entitled "Pentecostalism and AIDS in Nigeria."

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (Grant #2009-4053; $500,000; 07/20/2009 – 07/20/2012), for general support of Brown's Population Studies and Training Center. Principal Investigator for Training Grant focused on recruitment, pre-doctoral training, early post-PhD careers of population scientists from developing countries, especially sub-Saharan Africa.

National Science Foundation (DGE-0903668; $3,130,572; 08/15/09 – 07/31/14). Co-Principal Investigator (Barbara Stallings, Brown University, PI) on an Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship Program (IGERT) grant, "An Integrated Program on Development and Inequality in the Global South."

National Science Foundation (BCS-1021889; $14,910; Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (Stacey Vanderhurst); 9/01/2010 – 02/29/2012), study entitled "Migration Management in Nigeria."

National Institutes of Health (1 R01 HD057792-01A2; $141,965; 09/30/2009 – 08/31/2011). Sub-contract for ARRA planning grant (Jennifer Hirsch, Columbia University, PI) entitled "Life Projects and Antiretroviral Therapy: The Social Impacts of Scale-up."

National Science Foundation (BCS 0921638; $15,000; Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (Inna Leykin); 09/01/2009 – 02/28/2011), study entitled "Reproducing Russians: Population Science, Policy, and Kinship in 21st Century Russia."

National Institutes of Health – Lifespan/Tufts/Brown Center for AIDS Research Developmental Award (P30 AI042853; $40,000; 10/01/2006 – 9/30/2008) entitled "Religious Organizations, HIV/AIDS and the Scale-up of Antiretroviral Therapy in Nigeria." Principal Investigator in pilot study that aimed to examine the extent and nature of Pentecostal churches' and affiliated associations' participation in HIV-related activities, the factors that influence such involvement, and its effectiveness.

National Science Foundation (BCS 0612800; $12,000; Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (Kathryn Rhine); 08/01/2006 – 07/30/2007) entitled "Positive Living and Antiretroviral Therapy: Marriage, Divorce and the Life Course of HIV-Infected Women in Northern Nigeria."

National Science Foundation (BCS 0413600; $12,000; Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (Bruce Whitehouse); 10/15/04 – 10/15/06) entitled "Transnationalism, Islam and Commerce among Malian Immigrants in Brazzaville."

National Institutes of Health (1 R01 41724-01A1; $143,683; 08/11/2003 – 06/30/2007) study entitled "Love, Marriage and HIV: A Multi-Site Study of Gender and HIV Risk." Sub-contractor and the Principal Investigator for the Nigeria component of this $1.5 million five-country comparative ethnographic study of how changing ideologies and practices of marriage are affecting the social construction of gender roles in ways that influence the epidemiology of HIV transmission, particularly between husbands and wives.

National Science Foundation (BCS-0075764; $137,139; 08/01/2000 – 07/31/2004) study entitled "Migration, Kinship Networks, and Reproduction in Nigeria." Principal Investigator in research that combined anthropological and demographic methods to examine social and reproductive processes in an Igbo-speaking community that extends across rural-urban boundaries.

National Institutes of Health (3 P30 HD28251-10S1; $199,977; 07/01/2000 – 06/30/2003) study entitled "Adolescents, HIV/AIDS, and Rural-Urban Migration in Nigeria." Primary investigator in research that involved collaboration with Nigerian university and non-governmental organization partners to examine the effects of adjustment to urban life on sexual behavior and HIV/AIDS risk among adolescent and young adult migrants in two cities in Nigeria.

Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (#6636; $18,400; 06/09/2000 – 06/30/2001) pilot study entitled "Migration, Kinship Networks, and Reproduction in Nigeria." Principal Investigator in research that examined social and reproductive processes as they are affected by rural-urban migration in Nigeria. Pilot study resulted in larger ongoing NSF study described above.