James A. Pritchett

  • Professor of Anthropology
  • Core Faculty, African Studies Center
  • Core Faculty, African American and African Studies
  • Core Faculty, Center for Advanced Studies in International Development


Curriculum vitae

Research Interests

  • South Central Africa
  • Rites of Passage
  • Urban-Rural Relations
  • Economic Development
  • The African Diaspora

Biographical Info

James A. Pritchett, Professor of Anthropology, President of the African Studies Association, and former Director of the MSU African Studies Center.  He received his doctorate from Harvard University in 1990, having completed a re-study of the Lunda-Ndembu people on the Central African Plateau, first studied by Victor Turner in the early 1950s.  Pritchett’s work is concerned with the interaction between tradition and modernity in contemporary Africa, particularly the ways in which social change is interpreted and validated according to local belief systems.  He is the author of Lunda-Ndembu: Style, Change and Social Transformation in South Central Africa (University of Wisconsin Press, 2001), and Friends for Life, Friends for Death: Cohorts and Consciousness among the Lunda-Ndembu (University of Virginia Press, 2007).  He has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the African Studies Association and a member of the Board of Advisors of the International Consortium for Law and Development.  He has served as a Research Officer at the University of Zambia, and has conducted fieldwork there, and in Angola and Congo since 1982. Professor Pritchett also has a strong interest in the African Diaspora, and has studied communities of African-descended people in the Caribbean, Brazil and elsewhere in Central and South America.


2011 Christian Mission Stations in South Central Africa: Islands of (post)modernity, in Christianity and Public Culture in Africa, Harri Englund (ed).  Ohio University Press.

2007  Friends for Life, Friends for Death: Cohorts and Consciousness Among the Lunda-Ndembu (University of Virginia Press)

2001  Lunda-Ndembu: Style, Change and Social Transformation in South Central Africa  (University of Wisconsin Press)