Daniel Jordan Smith

Associate Professor of Anthropology
Chair of Anthropology


Daniel J. Smith joined the Department of Anthropology at Brown University in July 2001. He received an AB in Sociology from Harvard University in 1983, an MPH from Johns Hopkins University in 1989, and a PhD in Anthropology from Emory University in 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). He has completed several research projects with grants awarded by NSF and NIH, with a major focus in the HIV epidemic in Nigeria. Smith was the recipient of the 2007-2009 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.

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.

Smith's research projects focus on understanding the intersection of social change and social reproduction, particularly as it unfolds in population processes and health-related behavior. Recently 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/AIDS risk among adolescents and unmarried young adults. He recently completed 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. In addition to elucidating the cultural context of HIV transmission in the five countries, the study design represents a methodological renewal of anthropology's comparative orientation, employing a shared ethnographic methodology to investigate social, demographic, and health processes across five societies. Currently, Smith is conducting a study examining the marital and reproductive life projects of people receiving antiretroviral therapy in Nigeria.

Smith's research on political culture focuses on understanding the intersection of social imagination, politics, and contemporary issues in Nigeria, including vigilantism, the growing popularity of Pentecostal Christianity, and corruption. His book, A Culture of Corruption: Everyday Deception and Popular Discontent in Nigeria, which won the 2008 Margaret Mead Award, examines ordinary Nigerians' participation in corruption, even as they are, paradoxically, its main victims and its loudest critics.


Anthropological demography, HIV/AIDS, Medical anthropology, Migration, Religion, Reproductive health and behavior