Peter Little

Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor


Emory Program in Development Studies

Office: 219 Anthropology. Office hours Tuesday 1:15-2:15pm and by appointment.

Phone: 404-727-0994



  • PhD, Indiana University, 1983



  • Economic anthropology
  • Development anthropology
  • Ecological anthropology
  • Political anthropology
  • Agrarian change
  • Pastoralism
  • Sub-Saharan Africa

During the past 27 years, my research has addressed the anthropology of development and globalization, political economy of agrarian change, pastoralism, environmental politics and change, informal economies and statelessness, and food insecurity in several African countries. Most of my field studies have been conducted in Africa, with a primary emphasis on eastern Africa (Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia). During this period I have supervised more than 10 PhD students and 6 post-doctoral researchers and have collaborated with scholars and programs at several international institutions, including Oxford University, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, Kyoto University, University of Nairobi, University of Ghana, Eduardo Mondlane University (Mozambique), and Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. Along with extra-mural support for my own research in excess of $ 1.2 million, my graduate students have earned prestigious grants from the Social Science Research Council, Wenner-Gren Foundation, Fulbright-Hays program, National Science Foundation, and several other organizations. Over the years I have authored/co-authored more than 75 articles and book chapters and have written or edited/co-edited 8 books. Among my recent books are Somalia: Economy Without State (2003; Amaury Talbot Book Prize [Royal Anthropological Institute] and Choice Academic Book Award) and Understanding and Reducing Persistent Poverty in Africa (with C. Barrett and M. Carter, 2008).

Currently I am completing a project on the ‘anthropology of neo-liberalism in Africa’ with a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation that explores ethnographic cases of political and economic reforms in several African countries. Other current research and writing projects of mine include:

  • Pastoral Risk Management in East Africa (PARIMA), in collaboration with Abdillahi Aboud (Egerton University, Kenya) Chris Barrett (Cornell University), Layne Coppock (Utah State University), Cheryl Doss (Yale University), and John McPeak (Syracuse University). Fieldwork for the project was completed in 2007 and I am currently completing a book tentatively titled “Changing Livelihoods, Risky Environments: Social and Economic Change among Pastoralists in East Africa” (with C. Barrett, C. Doss, and J. McPeak).
  • Asset Recovery, Poverty, and Food Insecurity in South Wollo, Ethiopia, in collaboration with Priscilla Stone (Washington University), Peter Castro (Syracuse University), Teowdaj Mogues (International Food Policy Research Institute), and Workneh Negatu (Addis Ababa University). Fieldwork for the project was completed in 2007 and write-up of the project’s findings currently are underway, with a monograph planned on the ‘anthropology of hunger and poverty’ ( P. Little, P. Castro, and P. Stone). Preliminary findings of the study have been published in the Journal of Development Studies (2007) and World Development (2008).