Michael Degani

Assistant Professor

Mergenthaler 458
Wednesdays and Fridays, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Curriculum Vitae


I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology, broadly focusing on energy use and infrastructure in African cities. I received my PhD in anthropology from Yale University in 2015, during which I was a Mellon/American Council of Learned Societies Dissertation Completion Fellow. I am also the recipient of fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the Wenner Gren foundation, the Fulbright-Hayes foundation.

My current book manuscript The City Electric is an ethnography of the municipal power grid in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. As mobile phones, televisions, and refrigerators flood the city, the electricity required to power these devices has become ever less reliable. Two decades of stalled privatization reforms have weakened the national power monopoly, and consumers suffer expense, shortage, and a sluggish bureaucracy. Against this backdrop, I explore how residents devise informal economies of electricity distribution, and analyze their effects on the rhythms and textures of daily life.

At Johns Hopkins, I teach the anthropologies of infrastructures, economic life, and material culture as well African Studies Courses on science, technology, and postcolonial politics. My other interests include the anthropology of the state, design, China/Africa relations, and urban popular culture.

The Electric Fan. In “Our Electric Air.” Theorizing the Contemporary, Cultural Anthropology website. 2017.

“Disservice Lines.” Special Issue on Chokepoints, Limn. 2018 (forthcoming).

Emergency Power: Time, Ethics and Electricity in Postsocialist Tanzania. In Culture of Energy: Power, Practices, Technologies, edited by Sarah Strauss, Thomas Love, and Stephanie Strauss, 177-192. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

"Modal Reasoning in Dar es Salaam's Network." American Ethnologist, Vol. 44, no. 2, pp. 1-15

"Race and Electricity in Post-Socialist Tanzania.” The Corridor, Cityscapes Magazine, Summer 2017.