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Elizabeth Hopkins, a graduate of Wellesley College, received her Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University. Before joining the Smith faculty, she taught anthropology for two years at Columbia College. She has been 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, she has conducted field work in the mountainous border areas of southwestern Uganda, Rwanda and the Congo and has done extensive archival research on the private papers and the official records of the early imperial period (1895–1930). Her research emphasis has been on the political field which engaged African, administrator and missionary in a complex contest for local administrative control, cultural hegemony, and continuing autonomy.
Hopkins' publications include Social Systems and Family Patterns (with William J. Goode and Helen McClure); The Politics of Conquest: The Nile-Congo Divide, 1890–1930 (in press); "Racial minorities in East Africa" (The Transformation of East Africa: Studies in Political Anthropology); "The international boundary as a factor in colonial control" (Eastern African History); "The Nyabingi cult of southwestern Uganda" (Protest and Power in Black Africa); "The politics of crime: patterns of aggression and control in a colonial contest" (American Anthropologist); "Partition in practice: African politics and European rivalry in Bufumbira" (Bismarck, Europe, and Africa); and "The ethnography of conquest" (Critical Anthropology: The Ethnology of Stanley Diamond).
In addition to her research on East African history, she is interested in the more general issues of social change, urbanization and national identity in the Third World, the sociobiology of gender, and the role of ritual power in the contemporary political arena. Hopkins is co-director of the Third World Development Minor and a member of the advisory committees for the African studies, archeology and the International Relations programs.
At Smith, Hopkins taught Perspectives on Human Behavior and Evolution (ANT 131); Africa: a Continent in Crisis (ANT 231); Third World Politics: Anthropological Perspectives (ANT 232); and two seminars, Postcolonial Politics: Identity, Power and Conflict in the Developing World (ANT 340) and Sacred Power in Secular Politics: Ideology, Legitimacy and Action (ANT 341).