Christopher Morris

Christopher Morris

Christopher Morris

Assistant Professor

Anthropology: Anthropology of medicine, environmental governance, extractive industries, indigeneity, ethnicity, colonial and postcolonial histories, im/material properties, southern Africa

I received my PhD in sociocultural anthropology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Prior to joining the faculty at George Mason University in 2017, I was a tenure-track assistant professor of anthropology at Clarkson University. My research interests center on pharmaceutical politics, extractive economies, environmental governance, indigeneity, ethnicity, colonial and postcolonial histories, and property. My research on these topics has focused geographically on southern Africa. 

My recent work particularly examines the emergence of environmental, Indigenous, and spatial subjectivities in the context of contestation over biological resources in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. The resources are removed and marketed around the world as medicines by multinational companies. My book manuscript, tentatively titled Biotraffic: Medicines and Environmental Governance in South Africa, is under contract with the University of California Press and highlights the complex relationship between the global governance of biodiversity conservation and commercialization, explosions in Indigenous rights consciousness, and the role of foreign firms in local politics. In another recently completed study, I used interviews with medical doctors and researchers to examine a unique clinical trial in South Africa that assessed the safety and efficacy of an African medicine in HIV-seropositive persons.

My research has been published in venues such as American Ethnologist, Medical Anthropology, Journal of Southern African Studies, and Anthropology News. I have received fellowships from the Social Science Research Council and the National Science Foundation. 

Selected Publications

2019. "A 'Homeland's' Harvest: Biotraffic and Biotrade in the Contemporary Ciskei Region of South Africa." Journal of Southern African Studies 45 (3): 597-616.

2017. "Biopolitics and Boundary Work in South Africa's Sutherlandia Clinical Trial." Medical Anthropology 36 (7): 685-698.

2016. "Royal Pharmaceuticals: Bioprospecting, Rights, and Traditional Authority in South Africa." American Ethnologist 43 (3): 525-539.

2012. “Pharmaceutical Bioprospecting and the Law: The Case of Umckaloabo in a Former Apartheid Homeland of South Africa.” Anthropology News 53(10): 6-7.

2010. “The Anthropology of Globalization,” in H. James Birx (ed) 21st Century Anthropology. Sage: Thousand Oaks, CA.


Courses Taught

ANTH 114 - Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

ANTH 320 - Global Africa

ANTH 330 - Peoples and Cultures of Africa

ANTH 370 - Environment and Culture

ANTH 381 - Medical Anthropology

ANTH 490 - Theories, Methods, and Issues II

ANTH 535 - Anthropology and the Human Condition I

ANTH 650 - Methods in Anthropology