About

I am an anthropologist and historian of East Africa. I study how notions and practices of sovereignty and value were reformulated in the wake of empire. In particular, I examine how temporal, spatial, and evaluative scales were enacted and contested in domains such as political federation, central banking, and commodity smuggling. In addition, I am interested in the cultural politics of corporations and the material politics of infrastructures in sub-Saharan Africa.

I am in the programs in Anthropology & History and Science, Technology & Society at the University of Michigan. Before doctoral work, I was a Fulbright Scholar and research associate at the Centre for Social Science Research at the University of Cape Town. My research focused on the adoption of biometric identification by the welfare state in South Africa. I was also a 2012-2013 Fellow at UC Irvine’s Institute for Money, Technology & Financial Inclusion where I focused more particularly on the linkages between financial formalization and cash transfers in South Africa. I have looked more broadly at the adoption of biometric identification in Africa, as well as the rise of mobile registration and monitoring across the continent. Other work has looked at the impact of mobile money and open data on personal autonomy in Kenya.

You can reach me at kevinpd (at) umich.edu. You can also find me on Twitter (@kevindonovan) and on Academia.