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Brad Weiss


Office: Washington Hall 116
Phone: 757-221-1209
Email: [[blweis]]
Director of Undergraduate Studies: Anthropology
Areas of specialization: Africa; The Anthropology of Food; The Body; Space, place, and locality; Urban transformation; Popular Culture; Socio-cultural theory; Theories of Value; Ritual and Religious Practice


PhD, Anthropology, University of Chicago (1992); MA, Anthropology, University of Chicago (1985); BA, Religion, Dartmouth College (1984)


In my research I have undertaken a number of different ethnographic and historical projects, from a study of urban Tanzanian popular culture, to work on heritage breed pig production and consumption in the United States. 

In spite of the diverse places and topics I’ve worked on, I think all of my work asks about similar questions.  I’m interested in places - what makes a place recognizable and important to us? How is it organized? What draws us to places?

Asking these questions leads me to ask about value: What does it mean to value people, objects, relationships, and places?  How do different ways of valuing the world stand in relationship to each other? In my view, this is one of the most fundamental social and political problems we face: how do we define what counts as valuable? Who gets to make that determination? Who gets excluded - and what happens to their alternative understandings of value?

I have published four books and one edited volume in which I develop these themes.  Most of my scholarship has been focused on Tanzania. I’ve written a book about rural social transformation, The Making and Unmaking of the Haya Lived World, as well as work of historical anthropology that examines these issues over the course of the 20th century, Sacred Tree, Bitter Harvests.  I later carried out field work in the city of Arusha, a large tourist town where informal economic practices and global cultural forms come together. My book, Street Dreams and Hip Hop Barbershops, considers the transformation of value and the embodied experience of political economic change by examining popular culture here.  Most recently, my work has pursued the significance of food as a medium through which debates about social relations are articulated exploring the production, circulation, consumption, and connoisseurship of pasture-raised pork in central North Carolina.  The results of this field research have been published in my award winning book, Real Pigs.

Select Publications

Weiss, Brad. Real Pigs: Shifting Values in the Field of Local Pork. Duke University Press, 2016.

Weiss, Brad. "Configuring the authentic value of real food: Farm‐to‐fork, snout‐to‐tail, and local food movements." American Ethnologist 39, no. 3 (2012): 614-626.

Weiss, Brad. Street dreams and hip hop barbershops: Global fantasy in urban Tanzania. Indiana Univ Pr, 2009.

Weiss, Brad. Sacred trees, bitter harvests: Globalizing coffee in northwest Tanzania. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2003.

Weiss, Brad. "Thug realism: Inhabiting fantasy in urban Tanzania." Cultural Anthropology 17, no. 1 (2002): 93-124.

Courses Taught

ANTH 300 History of Anthropological Theory
ANTH 335 Peoples and Cultures of Africa
ANTH 337 African Ritual and Religious Practice
ANTH 363 Culture and Cuisine
ANTH 470 Anthropology of Space and Time
ANTH 600 Socio-Cultural Theory


Cultural Anthropology (2019-22) (with Heather Paxson and Chris Nelson)
Journal of Religion in Africa (2005-08)

To find out more about Dr. Weiss, visit his website at: