Charles D. Piot

Professor of Cultural Anthropology, African and African American Studies and Women's Studies

Bass Fellow

-- Duke University
HWL Affiliation: Undergraduate Research

Charlie Piot does research on contemporary culture and politics, as well as on histories of slavery and colonialism, in francophone West Africa. His first book, Remotely Global: Village Modernity in West Africa (1999) attempted to retheorize a classic out-of-the-way place as within the modern and the global. His recent book, Nostalgia for the Future: West Africa After the Cold War (2010), explores the way in which human rights discourse, democratization, NGOs, and charismatic Christianity are remaking sovereignty, the biopolitical, and political culture in West Africa. An in-progress book on Togolese applying for, and attempting to game, the US Diversity (green card) lottery also explores the experiences of West African expatriates in the US and Europe. He is co-editor of the journal Cultural Anthropology through 2015. 

He is currently engaged in research on two new projects. One tracks global discourses about female genital cutting (also known as FGM) from Western courtrooms and media into the capitals and villages of West Africa. The other explores the way in which human rights discourse, democratization, development, and charismatic Christianity are articulating with West African political cultures. Beyond Africa, he has research and teaching interests in African American studies, diaspora studies, pop culture, and the history of anthropology. 

During summers, Piot is the faculty leader of DukeEngage in Togo, leading teams of undergraduate students working with local community organizations to enhance youth culture and stem youth flight from remote villages in northern Togo to the plantations of Nigeria and Benin.


Undergraduate Research


Development Goes Wrong When It Misses the Humanities
-- May 5 2016
After decades of seeing close-up the desultory record of Western technology-based development projects in West Africa, cultural anthropologist Charles Piot tells his students to take a different... Read More