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Elizabeth Hopkins

Professor Emerita of Anthropology


Mason Hall


Before joining the Smith faculty, Elizabeth Hopkins taught anthropology for two years at Columbia College. She was a research assistant in the Columbia School of Law, a research associate with the Columbia Bureau of Applied Social Research and a senior research associate of the East African Institute of Social Research. A political anthropologist, Hopkins has conducted field work in the mountainous border areas of southwestern Uganda, Rwanda and the Congo, and she has done extensive archival research on the private papers and official records of the early imperial period (1895–1930). Her research emphasis has been on the complex contest engaged in by African administrators and missionaries for local administrative control, cultural hegemony and continuing autonomy.

In addition to her research on East African history, Hopkins is interested in the more general issues of social change, urbanization and national identity in the global south, the sociobiology of gender and the role of ritual power in the contemporary political arena. She is co-director of the minor in global south development studies and a member of the advisory committees for the African studies, archeology and the international relations programs.

Selected Publications

"Partition in Practice: African Politics and European Rivalry in Bufumbirk," Bismarck, Europe, and Africa, Oxford University Press, 1989

"The Politics of Crime: Patterns of Aggression and Control in a Colonial Contest," American Anthropologist, 1973

"The Nyabingi Cult of Southwestern Uganda," Protest and Power in Black Africa, Oxford University Press, 1970

"Racial Minorities in East Africa," The Transformation of East Africa: Studies in Political Anthropology, Basic Books, 1966

Selected Books

The Politics of Conquest: The Nile-Congo Divide, 1890–1930 (in press)

Social Systems and Family Patterns (with William J. Goode and Helen M. McClure), Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1971


Ph.D., Columbia University
B.A., Wellesley College