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 Bruce Whitehouse, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Lehigh University

Bruce Whitehouse

Associate Professor

0031 - Williams Hall

Ph.D., Brown University, 2007

B.A., Carleton College, 1993

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Research Areas

Additional Interests

  • Marriage and Polygyny
  • Population Dynamics
  • Urbanization and Urban Identities
  • Domestic Structure and Households
  • Transnational Migration from Western Sahel to Central Africa, Europe & North America
  • States and Politics in Postcolonial Africa
  • The Western Sahel Region
  • Bamako, Mali

Research Statement

Bruce Whitehouse studies social and political change in contemporary African societies. His first book, Migrants and Strangers in an African City (Indiana University Press, 2012), examines the multigenerational flow of people from West Africa to the Congo River Basin. His second book, Enduring Polygamy (Rutgers University Press, 2023), studies the resilience of plural marriage in the city of Bamako, Mali. His research has been published in journals including Africa Today, African Studies Review, Global Networks, Hommes et Migrations, and Medical Anthropology Quarterly.


After leading a life of great comfort but little purpose, Bruce Whitehouse served three years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali, West Africa (1997-2000) before joining the doctoral program in anthropology at Brown University, where he completed his PhD in 2007. He joined the faculty at Lehigh University in 2008. In addition to his affiliation with the Department of Sociology & Anthropology, he is a core faculty member of the Africana Studies and Global Studies programs. He lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and feels that his life finally has considerable purpose.


  • LVAIC Collaborative Program Grant, 2016-2017
  • Fulbright U.S. Scholar, Bamako, Mali, 2011-2012
  • Faculty Research Grant, Center for Global Islamic Studies, Lehigh University, 2011- 2012
  • Course Development Grant, Center for Global Islamic Studies, Lehigh University, 2010- 2011
  • Faculty Research Grant, Center for Global Islamic Studies, Lehigh University, 2010- 2011
  • Postdoctoral research fellowship, Population Studies and Training Center, Brown University, 2007 – 2008
  • Dissertation Fellowship, Graduate School, Brown University, 2006 – 2007
  • Dissertation Fieldwork Grant, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, 2004
  • Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, National Science Foundation, 2004
  • Supplemental research funds, Andrew Mellon Program in Anthropological Demography, Population Studies and Training Center, Brown University, 2002 and 2003
  • Fellowship for graduate study, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), National Institutes of Health, 2002 – 2004
  • Fellowship for graduate study, Graduate School, Brown University, 2001 – 2002


Books and book chapters
2015 “Mali.” In Africa Yearbook: Politics, Economy and Society South of the Sahara in 2014, edited by Sebastian Elischer, Rolf Hofmeier, Andreas Mehler, and Henning Melber, Brill, pp. 109-116.

2014 “Mali.” In Africa Yearbook: Politics, Economy and Society South of the Sahara in 2013, edited by Andreas Mehler, Henning Melber, and Klaas van Walraven, Brill, pp. 123-130.

2013 “Overcoming the economistic fallacy: Social determinants of voluntary migration from the Sahel to the Congo Basin.” In African Migration: Patterns and Perspectives, edited by Abdoulaye Kane and Todd Leedy, Indiana University Press.

2012 Migrants and Strangers in an African City: Exile, Dignity, Belonging, Indiana University Press.

2012 “Centripetal Forces: Reconciling cosmopolitan lives and local loyalty in a Malian transnational social field.” In West African Migrations: Transnational and Global Pathways in a New Century, edited by Olufemi Vaughan and Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome, Palgrave McMillan.

Journal articles
2016 “Sadio’s Choice: Love, Materialism and Consensual Marriage in Bamako, Mali.” Africa Today 62(3): 28-46.

2015 “Introduction: Rethinking Challenges to State Sovereignty in Mali and Northwest Africa.” African Security 8(4): 213-226 (with Francesco Strazzari).

2014 “The Malian Government’s Challenge to Restore Order in the North.” CTC Sentinel 7(2): 12-14, February 24.

2014 “Women in limbo: Life course consequences of infertility in a Nigerian community.”"Human Fertility 17(3): 188-191 (with Marida Hollos).

2014 “Definitions and the Experience of Fertility Problems: Infertile and Sub-fertile Women, Childless Mothers and Honorary Mothers in Two Southern Nigerian Communities.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly 28(1): 122-139 (Bruce Whitehouse and Marida Hollos).

2013 “‘A Festival of Brigands’: In Search of Democracy and Political Legitimacy in Mali.” Strategic Review for Southern Africa 35(2): 35-52.

2013 “The Stranger's Code: Explaining the Persistence of Distinct Identity among West African Traders in Brazzaville, Congo.” TSEG/Low Countries Journal of Social and Economic History 10(2): 82-101.

2013 “One hippopotamus and eight blind analysts: A multivocal analysis of the 2012 political crisis in the divided Republic of Mali.” Review of African Political Economy 40 (137): 343-357 (Baz Lecocq, Gregory Mann, Bruce Whitehouse, Dida Badi, Lotte Pelckmans, Nadia Belalimat, Bruce Hall & Wolfram Lacher).

2012 “The Force of Action: Legitimizing the Coup in Bamako, Mali.” Africa Spectrum 47(2- 3): 93-110.

2012 “What went wrong in Mali?” The London Review of Books 34(16): 17-18.

2011 « Approche comparative des familles dispersées (Mali/Congo) : Education et espaces nationaux », Autrepart 57/58.

2011 “Enterprising Strangers: Social Capital and Social Liability Among African Migrant Traders.” International Journal of Social Inquiry 4(1): 93-111.

2010  “Suffering infertility: the impact of infertility on women's life experiences in two Nigerian communities.” Journal of Biosocial Science 42(6): 787-814 (Ulla Larsen, Marida Hollos, Oka Obono and Bruce Whitehouse).

2009 “The problem of infertility in high fertility populations: Meanings, consequences and coping mechanisms in two Nigerian communities,” Social Science & Medicine 68: 2061- 2068 (Marida Hollos, Ulla Larsen, Oka Obono and Bruce Whitehouse).

2009 « Migrants et insécurité existentielle : le cas de Brazzaville », Hommes et Migrations 1279: 80-87.

2009 “Discrimination, despoliation and irreconcilable difference: host-immigrant tensions in Brazzaville, Congo,” Africa Spectrum 1/2009: 39-59.

2009 “Transnational childrearing and the preservation of transnational identity in Brazzaville, Congo,” Global Networks 9(1): 82-99.

2008  “(In)fertility and the modern female life course in two southern Nigerian communities,” Ethnology 47(1): 23-43 (Marida Hollos and Bruce Whitehouse).



Bruce Whitehouse grounds his teaching in ethnographic case studies in communities around the world, and requires his students to hone their skills in composition, argument, and critical thinking. With the exception of ANTH 011, his courses are discussion based and are limited to 20 students.

Courses taught:

  • First-Year Seminar (ANTH 090): topics change each year, and have ranged from predicting the future to international development to race and racism.
  • Cultural Diversity & Human Nature (ANTH 011): an introduction to the field of cultural anthropology, with a little linguistics too.
  • Cultural Study & Globalization (ANTH/GS 106): an overview of global cultural dynamics.
  • Medical Anthropology (ANTH/GS/HMS 155): an introduction to anthropological approaches to understand health, illness, and healing.
  • So You Want to Save the World--The Anthropology of Humanitarianism & Development (AAS/ANTH/GS 317): explores efforts to reduce poverty and improve the human condition (fulfills the Junior-Year Writing-Intensive requirement).
  • Global Capitalism (ANTH/GS 320): offers an anthropological take on the global economic system and its impact on human communities (fulfills the Junior-Year Writing-Intensive requirement).