Chair, Anthropology; Niara Sudarkasa Collegiate Professor of Anthropology and Afroamerican & African Studies, Faculty Associate, Center for Political Studies
Kelly Askew is Department Chair of Anthropology and Niara Sudarkasa Collegiate Professor of Anthropology and Afroamerican & African Studies. She holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Harvard University and B.A. in Music and Anthropology from Yale University and has worked for over three decades in Tanzania and Kenya. Her writings and documentary film projects focus on: 1) arts, aesthetics and politics, with current projects on post-socialist poetry, post-independence African visual arts, and digitizing African music archives; (2) critical development studies, specifically concerning rural energy access, and and the formalization of property rights; and (3) indigenous political movements, especially of Maasai pastoralists in East Africa.
Publications include Performing the Nation: Swahili Music and Cultural Politics in Tanzania (Chicago, 2002), a finalist for the African Studies Association Herskovits Award, The Anthropology of Media (co-edited with Richard Wilk, Blackwell, 2002), African Postsocialisms (co-edited with Anne Pitcher, Edinburgh, 2006) and over 30 essays and book chapters. She is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Berlin Institute of Advanced Studies, National Endowment for the Humanities, Royal Danish Embassy of Tanzania, National Science Foundation, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, USAID, Ford Foundation, and Fulbright Association.
Recent film projects include: Poetry in Motion: 100 Years of Zanzibar’s Nadi Ikhwan Safaa (Buda Musique, 2016); and The Chairman and the Lions (Documentary Educational Resources, 2013), which won 1st place at the ETNOFilm Festival (Croatia, 2013) and a Special Jury Award at the Zanzibar International Film Festival (Tanzania, 2013). Her latest film Maasai Remix (2019) explores indigenous creativity in addressing challenges to Maasai pastoralist livelihoods. It was named an Official Selection at the International Festival of Ethnological Film (Belgrade, Serbia), Festival du Film Pastoralismes et Grands Espaces (Grenoble, France), Morehouse College Human Rights Film Festival (Atlanta, USA) and The Hague Global Cinema Festival (The Hague, Netherlands). She teaches undergraduate-level courses on Introduction to Africa and Its Diasporas, The Comparative Study of Culture, Anthropological Perspectives on the Arts, Rap and Radicalism, and African Cinema. At the graduate level, she offers seminars on Media Anthropology, Anthropology of Performance and Problems in African Ethnology.
- privatization of property rights and land conflicts
- art, aesthetics, politics
- media and ethnographic filmmaking
- cultural politics and nationalism
- indigenous political movements
- Swahili studies
- Tanzania and Kenya, East Africa