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Jane I. Guyer (1943-2024)

The African Studies Association community mourns the loss of Dr. Jane I. Guyer, 2012 ASA Distinguished Africanist and lifetime member of the Association. The statement below was excerpted from a thoughtful memorial released by Johns Hopkins University. Please read the full In Memoriam here: https://anthropology.jhu.edu/2024/01/19/in-memorium-jane-i-guyer-1943-2024/

“A leading anthropologist and Africanist of her generation, Guyer studied at the London School of Economics and the University of Rochester, holding faculty positions at Harvard University, Boston University, and Northwestern University before coming to Johns Hopkins. Guyer was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2008, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009. 

As the American Academy observes, “her research focuses on the organizational forms through which social and material life are being constantly recreated and reconstructed. She has shaped understanding of the growth of economic institutions in the popular economy of West and Equatorial Africa… particularly the productive economy, the division of labor and the management of money. Theoretically she focuses on the interface between formal and informal economies, and particularly the instabilities that interface gives rise to.” 

Guyer authored many books, including, most recently, Legacies, Logics, Logistics: Essays in the Anthropology of the Platform Economy, published by the University of Chicago Press in 2016. The same year, she published a new translation and expanded edition of the classic text by Marcel Mauss, The Gift. Her most influential work perhaps was the 2004 book based on her Lewis Henry Morgan Lectures at Rochester University, Marginal Gains: Monetary Transactions in Atlantic Africa. The article she wrote for American Ethnologist in 2007 – “Prophecy and the Near Future: Thoughts on Macroeconomic, Evangelical, and Punctuated Time” – remains a benchmark work of anthropological theory.”