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Caroline Melly received her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California, Irvine, in 2008. She is a sociocultural anthropologist whose research broadly considers how transnational processes and linkages, such as migration, foreign investment regulations and practices, development discourses, and technology and media, are transforming urban spaces and livelihoods in contemporary Africa.
Melly has conducted research in Dakar, Senegal, with the support of the National Science Foundation and the Fulbright-Hays program.
Her current manuscript examines how state officials and urban residents articulate complex and contradictory visions of a new era in the capital's postcolonial history, one that follows the structural adjustment reforms of the 1980s and 1990s. This period is characterized by an intense interest in transnational migration out of the country (to destinations like Europe, the United States and the Middle East) and by a focus on large-scale investment and entrepreneurialism.
Melly further examines how both contradictory and overlapping discourses and policies impact people's daily lives, their interactions with and in urban spaces, and their ideas about economic possibility and political participation. Her ethnographic research involved an internship at the national investment promotion agency, which was looking to create a program for migrants to invest; mobile interviews with cab drivers navigating the city; and extensive work with return migrants, investors and residents who considered themselves excluded from transnational networks. Melly also plans to extend the scope of her research to consider how Senegalese migrants in the United States are shaping the capital city and the nation from afar through the money they send to families, through websites and virtual debates, and through transnational political groups that focus on national- and city-level politics.
At Smith, Melly teaches courses on transnationalism and globalization, visual anthropology, gender, urban anthropology, the Internet and technology, and African studies.