Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Ph.D. Anthropology, 2006
Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris.
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
- SOCL 7222 Globalization and Gender
- ANTH 2302 Gender and Sex: Crosscultural Perspectives
- ANTH 3202 Consumer Cultures
- ANTH 36570 Foundations of Anthropological Theory
- ANTH 4510 Anthropology of Africa
Nina Sylvanus is an assistant professor of anthropology at Northeastern University. She received her doctoral training in anthropology and African Studies from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris and taught in the anthropology department at Reed College before joining Northeastern. Her research and teaching has focused on the social life of objects, the semiotics of value, globalization and transnational flows, consumerism and gender and economic subjectivity, as well as China-in-Africa relations. Professor Sylvanus’ book Patterns in Circulation: Cloth, Gender and Materiality in West Africa (University of Chicago Press, 2016) theorizes the dense materiality of African print cloth as a national and global framework for understanding colonial/postcolonial patterns of exchange and value production. She is currently working on two new research projects: the first concerning an anthropological study of how color and material science influenced emerging textile markets (between Europe and Asia/Africa) in the 19th – 20th centuries, and the second on the pressing issue of large-scale Chinese investments in West African port cities.
Articles and book chapters
- Sylvanus, Nina. 2013. “Chinese Devils, the Global Market and the Declining Power of Togo’s Nana-Benzes,” African Studies Review 56 (1): 65-80. Special Issue: China in Africa.
- Sylvanus, Nina. 2013. “Fashionability in Colonial and Postcolonial Togo.” In African Dress: Fashion, Agency, Performance, edited by Karen Tranberg Hansen and Soyini Madison, pp. 30-44. London: Bloomsbury.
- Sylvanus, Nina. 2012. “Fakes: Crisis in Conceptions of Value in Neoliberal Togo,” Cahiers d’Etudes Africaines 205(1): 237-258.
- Sylvanus, Nina and Linn Axelsson. 2010. “Navigating Chinese Textile Networks: Women Traders in Accra and Lomé”. In The Rise of China and India in Africa. Challenges, Opportunities and Critical Interventions, edited by Fantu Cheru and Chris Obi, pp. 132-141. London: Zed Books.
- Sylvanus, Nina. 2009. “Commercantes togolaises et diables chinois. Une approche par la rumeur,” Politique Africaine 113 (1): 55-70. Special Issue: Afrique, la globalisation par les Suds.
- Sylvanus, Nina. 2008. “Rethinking Free-trade Practices in Contemporary Togo : Women Entrepreneurs in the Global Textile Trade.” In Globalization and Transformations of Local socio-economic Practices, edited by Ulrike Schuerkens, pp. 174-191. London: Routledge.
- Sylvanus, Nina. 2007. “The Fabric of Africanity. Tracing the Global Threads of Authenticity,” Anthropological Theory 7 (2): 201-216.
- Sylvanus, Nina. 2002. “L’étoffe de l’africanité,” Les Temps Modernes 620-621: 128-145.
Awards and Honors
- NSF/Advance External Mentorship Grant, 2012-2013
- Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship, Center for the Humanities, Research, University of the Western Cape, 2011-2012
- Summer Research Grant, Dean of Faculty, Reed College, 2009
- Global Fellow (Postdoctoral Fellowship), International Institute, UCLA, Los Angeles, 2006-2008
- Research Fellow, Maison Française d’Oxford, University of Oxford, Fall 2005
- Association for African Studies
- Association of American Anthropology
- Society for Cultural Anthropology
- Society for Urban, National and Transnational/Global Anthropology