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Our Team

James Ferguson

Susan Ford Dorsey Director, Center for African Studies, Susan S. and William H. Hindle Anthropology Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences

James Ferguson is the Susan S. and William H. Hindle Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, and Professor in the Department of Anthropology. His research has focused on southern Africa (especially Lesotho, Zambia, South Africa, and Namibia), and has engaged a broad range of theoretical and ethnographic issues. These include the politics of “development”, rural-urban migration, changing topgraphies of property and wealth, constructions of space and place, urban culture in mining towns, experiences of modernity, the spatialization of states, the place of “Africa” in a real and imagined world, and the theory and politics of ethnography. Running through much of this work is a concern with how discourses organized around concepts such as “development” and “modernity” intersect the lives of ordinary people.

Professor Ferguson's more recent work has explored the surprising creation and/or expansion (both in southern Africa and across the global South) of social welfare programs targeting the poor, anchored in schemes that directly transfer small amounts of cash to large numbers of low-income people. His work aims to situate these programs within a larger “politics of distribution,” and to show how they are linked to emergent forms of distributive politics in contexts where new masses of “working age” people are supported by means other than wage labor. In this context, new political possibilities and dangers are emerging, even as new analytical and critical strategies are required. His book on this topic (Give a Man a Fish: Reflections on the New Politics of Distribution) was published in 2015.  More recently, he has been working on two new projects: first, a programmatic paper (co-authored with Tania Li) outlining an alternative approach to global political-economic inquiry in the wake of the failure of long-established transition narratives; and second, a theoretical essay exploring the ways that “presence” (rather than membership) can serve as a basis of social obligation (including the obligation to share).


Brenda Mutuma

Program Coordinator
Phone: (650) 736-6253
Office: 127 Encina Commons

Brenda Mutuma is the newest, yet secretly one of the oldest, members of the CAS team. She graduated from Stanford in 2013, with a B.A. in Political Science. During her time at Stanford, she received an Africa Service Fellowship to work with Heifer International in Uganda, served as a CAS student program assistant, and was the spark and driving force that built a student garden at Ujamaa residence. Before joining CAS as the program coordinator, Brenda worked at the USDA, organizing farmers and state officials to fight food insecurity across the country. Brenda also worked at the Tenderloin Housing Clinic in San Francisco, providing life resources and case management for people transitioning from homelessness. Brenda is committed to creating more just, inclusive, and healthy environments. Brenda loves music and stargazing, and is also passionate about creative writing.

Laura Hubbard

Associate Director
Phone: (650) 723-0295
Office: 127 Encina Commons
Discipline(s): Anthropology

Laura Hubbard, PhD, UC Berkeley, is an anthropologist of youth, media and popular culture. She has lived and worked in Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa focusing on questions of aesthetics and politics, temporality and youth culture, the links of longing and belonging among southern African cities, and the nexus of media and development. Dr. Hubbard's other interests include humanitarianism, the city, race and representation, speculative fiction, television and short film, Afro-futurism, and the aesthetics of hope. In 2013, Dr. Hubbard received the Dean's Award of Merit from the School of H&S for her contributions to African Studies and the broader Stanford community. Dr. Hubbard cherishes and thrives in the music, deep conversations, and many events at CAS. She has an open door policy and welcomes all to enter and share stories and songs anytime. Join her in an ever growing CAS and in calling CAS home for research, for community, and for solace. 

Student Staff