Photo of Professor Harry G West

Professor Harry G West

Research Interests

Between 1991 and 2005, I carried out research in the northern Mozambican district of Mueda, where nationalist guerrillas based themselves during the anti-colonial war (1964-1974). As part of this project, I studied how various social groups experienced, and coped with, violence during and after the war for independence. At the same time, I studied how colonialism and revolutionary socialism reconfigured the institutions of local authority, and, more recently, how post-socialist reforms fostered a “revival of tradition” in rural Mozambique. My published works on Mozambique detail how neo-liberal reformers conceived of “traditional authorities” and “traditional healers” as partners in the project of decentralized democratic governance, notwithstanding the fact that the power exercised by these figures is understood by Mueda residents to derive from their knowledge of sorcery. My first book, Kupilikula: Governance and the Invisible Realm in Mozambique, was first-runner-up for the African Studies Association (USA)’s Melville J. Herskovits Award in 2006, and won the Royal Anthropological Institute’s Amaury Talbot Prize for African Anthropology in 2007. My second book, Ethnographic Sorcery, was first-runner-up for the Society for Humanistic Anthropology’s Victor Turner Prize in 2008. My more recent research is in the anthropology of food. I have focused on artisan cheese, the discourse of “terroir,” and the global market niche in “heritage foods.” I am particularly interested in how cheesemakers have preserved and/or transformed cheesemaking techniques while navigating a changing marketplace, as well as how they have presented themselves, their locales of production, and their productive traditions to consumers new and old. I am also interested in how engagement with food—from making food, to sharing it and eating it—affords opportunities for people to remember, including the acquisition of memories of things they have not themselves directly experienced. My most recent book is entitled Food Between the Country and the City: Ethnographies of a Changing Global Foodscape, and is co-edited with Nuno Domingos and José Manuel Sobral. I also serve on the editorial boards of: Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies; Food, Culture and Society; The Graduate Journal of Food Studies; The Journal of Agrarian Change; and Análise Social: Revista do Instituto de Ciências Sociais da Universidade de Lisboa.

Research Supervision

I have supervised doctoral students working in Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America and Europe in the fields of political anthropology and the anthropology of food.