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John Comaroff

John Comaroff headshot

Affiliated Research Professor

  • Harvard University
  • 12 Quincy Street
  • Cambridge, MA 02138
  • Phone: (617) 496-2658
  • Contact

Joint appointment

Professor of African and African American Studies and of Anthropology, Oppenheimer Fellow in African Studies, Harvard University; Honorary Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Cape Town


Ph.D., Anthropology, University of London

Curriculum vitae


John Comaroff is an ABF Affiliated Research Professor and Professor of African and African-American Studies and Anthropology at Harvard University. Before joining the Department of African and African American Studies, John Comaroff was the Harold H. Swift Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago, Honorary Professor of Anthropology at the University of Cape Town, and…

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Research focus

Crime, policing, and the workings of the state in Africa, democracy and difference in post-revolutionary societies, and postcolonial political economy in the global south


Cover of The Truth about Crime: Sovereignty, Knowledge, Social Order The Truth about Crime: Sovereignty, Knowledge, Social Order
University of Chicago Press
Writing Theory from the South: The Global Order from an African Perspective
The World Financial Review
“Foreword, in W. Garriott, ed., Policing and Contemporary Governance: The Anthropology of Police in Practice"
Palgrave Macmillian

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John & Jean Comaroff discuss the phenomenon of "Ethnicity, Inc."

Apr 30, 2010

Listen to the podcast from BBC 4's "Thinking Allowed" program, broadcast Februay 8, 2010. (Comaroff segment begins at 12.40) Ethno-theme parks, Native…

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The Return of Khulekani Khumalo, Zombie Captive: Imposture, Personhood, and the Law in South Africa
Apr 2013
Reflections on Theory from the South
Feb 2013
Divine Detection: Crime and the Metaphysics of Disorder
Feb 2013

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Professional Service & Recognition

  • Mellon Learning Associate, Bates College
  • Awarded the Anders Retzius Gold Medal from the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography, presented by the King of Sweden, April 2007
  • Member, Standing Committee on African Studies and Standing Committee on Ethnicity, Migration, and Rights, Harvard University
  • Member, Editorial Group, Journal of Anthropological Research
  • Member, Editorial Group, Annual Review of Law and Social Science
  • Member, Editorial Advisory Board, Hagar:International Social Science Review
  • Member, Editorial Board, Afrika Spectrum
  • Member, International Review Committee, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany
  • Member, International Advisory Board, Social Dynamics
  • Member, International External Panel of Reviewers, Kuwait University
  • Member, College of Reviewers, Canada Research Chairs Program, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
  • Awarded Harry J. Kalven, Jr. Prize, Law and Society Association
  • Associated Scholar, Center on Law and Globalization, American Bar Foundation and the University of Illinois College of Law
  • Patron, Organisation of Intra-Cultural Development
  • Phi Beta Kappa Scholar, 2013-14
  • Member, Board of Directors, Human Rights Program, University of Chicago
  • Honorary Professor, University of Cape Town, 2010-2015


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