James H. Smith
Why James Smith
We selected James Smith because of his intensive fieldwork in coltan mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His research focuses on local understandings of the mineral trade and delineates the connection between American electronic consumerism and violence in eastern Congo. His insights on the situation on the ground in the Congo and his focus on local perception are critical for an informed analysis of the effects of Western activism around conflict minerals.
– 2002, PhD, Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago
– MA, Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago
– BA, Anthropology and Social Thought/Political Economy, University of Massachusetts, Amherst (Commonwealth Honors College)
– Other: Rockefeller Fellowship in Religion, Conflict, and Peace-building at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, the University of Notre Dame (2003-04).
James Smith is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at UC Davis. He teaches a variety of courses including: “Anthropology of Development,” “Cultures and Societies of East and South Africa,” and Introduction to “Cultural Anthropology.”
The Cultural Politics of Time; Globalized Substances; DR Congo Coltan Mining and the Digital Age; Vernacular “Development” Discourses and Practices; Religious Utopias and Neotraditionalist Movements; Resource Struggles and Politics in Africa; the Politics of Witchcraft and Sorcery in Africa; Africa (especially East and Central).
Main Publications Used in Analysis:
The main article that we used by James Smith in our analysis was “Tantalus in the Digital Age: Coltan ore, temporal dispossession, and “movement” in the Eastern DR Congo.” This article explained the “paradoxical value potentials” of coltan mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Smith explores a variety of different local Congolese views of the power of coltan and its potential for local and global power. We also relied heavily on the material found in Smith’s article co-written with Jeffrey Mantz, “Do Cell Phones Dream of Civil War?: The Mystification of Production and the Consequences of Technology Fetishism in the Eastern Congo and Beyond, in Inclusion and Exclusion in the Global Arena.” This article explores similar themes to the first, but explores the relationship of violence and minerals more in-depth.
–2011 Tantalus in the Digital Age: Coltan ore, temporal dispossession, and “movement” in the Eastern DR Congo. American Ethnologist, Volume 38, Number 1, pp. 17-35
Examines the temporality and difference in localized understanding of the role of Coltan mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Explores local perceptions of mining from the eyes of various sectors of the Congolese people including diggers, traders, state and military authorities, and civilians. Focus remains on local imagination and global connectivity through the eyes of the Congolese people.
–2008 Bewitching Development: Witchcraft and the Reinvention of Development in Neoliberal Kenya (the University of Chicago Press, Practices of Meaning Series).
Provides a discourse about different understandings of development on the ground in neoliberal Africa and the importance of placing development in a localized cultural context. Explores the role of local imagination in these development initiatives specifically through the lens of witchcraft and provides a critique of traditional neoliberal development practices.
–-2006 (with Jeffrey Mantz), Do Cell Phones Dream of Civl War?: The Mystification of Production and the Consequences of Technology Fetishism in the Eastern Congo and Beyond, in Inclusion and Exclusion in the Global Arena, Max Kirsch, ed. (Routledge).