Kristin Phillips

Senior Lecturer

Office: 305 Anthropology. Spring office hours: Tues 1.30-2.30

Phone: 404-727-9551


Additional Contact Information


  • PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2009



  • Development anthropology
  • Political anthropology
  • Agrarian change
  • Knowledge and representation
  • Education
  • Sub-Saharan Africa

I am a sociocultural anthropologist who studies citizenship, development, and social change in East Africa. I am specifically interested in how people in contemporary African contexts organize politically, engage policy structures, and vie for voice and economic resources amidst other everyday pursuits of livelihood, human connection, and meaning. In pursuing these questions, I have conducted ethnographic and historical research in the drought-prone Singida region of central Tanzania since 2004. I have published and presented on themes of participatory development, electoral politics, postcolonial policymaking, the politics of knowledge, gender and generation, schooling and childhood, initiation and ritual, and food, farming, and hunger.

I am currently completing a book manuscript, titled Subsistence Citizenship: Hunger, Development, and the Politics of Precarity in Tanzania.  This project examines how rural people in a drought-prone and geographically marginal part of Tanzania – Singida Region - experience and understand their ongoing challenges to subsistence and how they engage, produce, sustain, and survive the rural Tanzanian state and each other in the age of democracy and development.

The project details ethnographically how people in agrarian communities in Tanzania experience and understand intensifying challenges to subsistence presented by climate change, rising commodity prices, and political and economic transition. Citizenship in this context bears distinctive temporal and spatial attributes, characterized by seasonality in relation to water and food supply; ebbs and flows of political attention and engagement in relation to election cycles; unpredictability, and the invisibility of rural governance. Based on ethnographic and historical research conducted in Tanzania between 2004 and 2014, I show how the everyday project of subsistence shapes rural people’s engagement with key contemporary democratic forms like electoral politics, participatory development, rights-based claims-making, and humanitarian aid.

Research and writing for this project have been supported through fellowships from Fulbright-Hays DDRA, Foreign Language and Area Studies program, the Spencer Foundation, and the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Michigan State University. Other publications based on this research have appeared in African Studies ReviewPolitical and Legal Anthropology Review (PoLAR), Comparative Education ReviewCritical Studies in Education, and several edited volumes.


  • ANT 190 Freshman Seminar: The Politics of Humanitarianism in Africa
  • ANT 207 Foundations in Development Studies
  • ANT 385 Special Topics: Political Culture and Citizenship in Africa
  • ANT 385 Special Topics: Africa and the 'Natural Resource Curse'
  • AFS 263/IDS 285 Introduction to African Studies
  • MDP 506 Research Methods for Development Practice I: Introduction to Qualitative Research
  • MDP 585 Research Methods for Development Practice II: Techniques and Critiques of Participatory Development