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Nicholas William Townsend Professor Emeritus of Anthropology

Nicholas Townsend first came to Brown in 1994 as a Mellon Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the PSTC. He was appointed to the faculty of the Department of Anthropology in 1996. He received his BA in Anthropology, MA in Demography, and PhD in Anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley.

Brown Affiliations

scholarly work

Men, migration, and households in Botswana: an exploration of connections over time and space. Journal of Southern African Studies 23(3): 405-420.

Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective, (3rd. ed.) edited by Caroline B. Brettell and Carolyn F. Sargent. Pages 120-135. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Cultural contexts of father involvement. In Handbook of Father Involvement: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, edited by Catherine S. Tamis-LeMonda and Natasha Cabrera. Pages 249-277. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Children's residence patterns and educational attainment in rural South Africa. Population Studies: 56(2):215-225. (with Sangeetha Madhavan, Stephen Tollman, Michel Garenne, and Kathleen Kahn.

Package Deal: Marriage, Work, and Fatherhood in Men's Lives. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Children's residence patterns and educational attainment in rural South Africa. Population Studies: 56(2):215-225. (with Sangeetha Madhavan, Stephen Tollman, Michel Garenne, and Kathleen Kahn.

Package Deal: Marriage, Work, and Fatherhood in Men's Lives. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

research overview

Professor Townsend studies social reproduction; families and social structure; men's lives in political-economic context; spatially dispersed social groups; the United States and Southern Africa.

research statement

At increasing levels of generality, my research is about: the relationships and roles of men in families in the United States and in Southern Africa; the social organization of domestic lives in a comparative perspective; and the cultural meanings and social organization relevant to social reproduction and cultural continuity. I have investigated the cultural meanings of fatherhood in three different groups: the contemporary American middle class (reported in my recent book The Package Deal ); migrant men from Botswana, one of the labor reserves of apartheid South Africa; and a poor, rural population in South Africa. My current research in South Africa is on children's well-being and social connection in rural South Africa. My teaching in the department's program in Anthropology and Population and my affiliation with the Population Studies and Training Center reflect my dual conviction that anthropology can make theoretical and methodological contributions to population studies, and that studying population processes can illuminate fundamental anthropological issues.