Skip to main content

Dinah Hannaford

Dinah Hannaford

Associate Professor
Anthropology Undergraduate Program Director
Ph.D., Emory University

Office: Old Science Building, Suite 230

Biographical Summary

Dinah Hannaford is a cultural anthropologist whose work centers around the political economy of intimate life. As an experienced ethnographic field researcher with a strong linguistic foundation in French, Italian, and Wolof, Hannaford uses fine-grained ethnography to offer fresh insights into the conditions, challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. With an eye to questions of gender and power, her work provides a substantive contribution to crucial questions about mobility, technology, intimacy and inequality.

Dr. Hannaford is the author of Aid and the Help: International Development and the Transnational Extraction of Care (Stanford University Press 2023), an ethnographic study of the intersection of aid work and domestic labor. Expatriate aid workers posted overseas routinely hire local people to perform reproductive labor at low cost, including maids, nannies, security guards and drivers. Though nearly every expat aid worker in the developing world has local people working within the intimate sphere of their homes, these relationships are seldom, if ever, discussed in analyses of the development paradigm and its praxis. Aid and the Help addresses this lacuna through an ethnographic analysis of expat aid workers and their relations with their household staff in Dakar, Senegal, arguing that an examination of the reproductive labor cheaply purchased by aid workers posted overseas opens the opportunity to assess the multiple ways that the ostensibly “giving” industry of development can be an extractive industry as well.

Dr. Hannaford’s first book, Marriage Without Borders: Transnational Spouses in Neoliberal Senegal (University of Pennsylvania Press 2017) draws from over ten years of multi-sited ethnographic research on Senegalese transnational migration and marriage. Marriage Without Borders illustrates how neoliberal policies at home, and global labor restructuring abroad, have profoundly shaped Senegalese understandings of duty, gender, and desire, resulting in the phenomenon of long-distance marriages between Senegalese migrant husbands and non-migrant wives. The book argues that Senegalese transnational marriages mirror larger patterns of new kin formations within the developing world in response to the global economic shifts of late capitalism, virtual connectivity, and global mobility.

Dinah Hannaford is co-editor, with Joanna Davidson, of Opting Out: Women Messing with Marriage Around the World (Rutgers University Press, 2022). Opting Out draws together nuanced ethnographic accounts from diverse locations to demonstrate that there is a global pattern in gender and marital transformations, especially in places where marriage has long been obligatory: women around the world are opting out of marriage. Across diverse geographic contexts in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, this book offers sensitive and powerful portrayals of women as they escape or reshape marriage into more rewarding arrangements. The volume shows how women pave new pathways for intimacy, sociality, and fulfillment as they rearrange marriage, gender relations, and connections with their own kin.

Hannaford’s new research project extends her interest in transnationality, mobility, status, and desire into an examination of study abroad. Together with Dr. Ellen Foley, she is conducting ethnographic research into the racial and gendered power dynamics of American study abroad in Africa.   

Selected Publications

Hannaford, Dinah (forthcoming 2023) Aid and the Help: International Development and the Transnational Extraction of Care, Stanford CA: Stanford University Press. [Series: Globalization in Everyday Life]

Hannaford, Dinah (2021) “Human Infrastructure in Expat Spaces of an African City” City and Society. 33 (2).

Hannaford, Dinah (2020) “The Specter of African Mobility” South Central Review. 37 (2-3): 45-57.

Hannaford, Dinah (2020) “Having It All Overseas: Aid Workers and the International Division of Reproductive Labor” Gender, Work and Organization. 27, 565-580. 

Hannaford, Dinah (2018) “Easy Access: New Dynamics in Long-Distance African Intimacies” Africa, 88 (4), 645-662.

Hannaford, Dinah (2017) Marriage Without Borders: Transnational Spouses in Neoliberal Senegal, Philadelphia, PA: The University of Pennsylvania Press. [Series: Contemporary Ethnography]

Hannaford, Dinah (2016) “Intimate Remittances: Marriage, Migration, and MoneyGram in Senegal” Africa Today, 62 (3), 93-109.

Hannaford, Dinah (2015) “Technologies of the Spouse: Intimate Surveillance in Senegalese Transnational Marriages” Global Networks 15 (1): 43-59.