Research

Dr. Hodgson is a cultural and historical anthropologist with long term research experience in Tanzania, primarily among Maasai pastoralists and agro-pastoralists. Her first book, Once Intrepid Warriors, combines cultural, historical, and political economy approaches to explore the intersection and interconstruction of gender and ethnicity, and to demonstrate how they shaped and were shaped by the shifting meanings, uses and effects of “development” from the colonial period until the present. The book seeks to define, locate and analyze “development” historically, culturally and spatially, with particular attention to how “development” is mediated, reshaped, and even resisted at local levels as policies are translated into practices. She explores the gendered ways in which Maasai imagine and experience “development,” and negotiate “marginality” as well as “modernity.”

Her second book, The Church of Women, explores female experiences and expressions of spirituality in the context of Catholic evangelization. She uses historical and ethnographic evidence to examine how gender ideas and practices shaped the contours of the encounter between Catholic missionaries and Maasai men and women since 1950. The book considers the consequences of taking spirituality seriously a a domain of gendered power.

Her third book, Being Maasai, Becoming Indigenous: Postcolonial Politics in a Neoliberal World, explores the dynamics of civil society, transnational advocacy and the state in Africa through an ethnohistorical study of the rise and fall of the engagement of pastoralist activists and organizations in Tanzania with the transnational indigenous rights movement.

Her forthcoming book, Gender, Justice and the Problem of Culture: From Customary Law to Human Rights in Tanzania, examines the gendered consequences of the creation and implementation of shifting legal regimes (including customary law, colonial legal institutions, postcolonial civil law, and, more recently women’s human rights protocols) for not just relations between and among men and women, but for broader Maasai ideas and practices of justice, respect and morality in which women and the (primarily female-identified) Maasai divinity Eng’ai were significant. The book draws on and contributes to theories of collective action, critical legal anthropology, studies of gender and agency, and ethnographic studies of women’s human rights.

Finally, she has recently completed The Gender, Culture, and Power Reader for Oxford University Press.  The Reader is designed for such 200 and 300-level undergraduate courses as the Anthropology of Gender, Feminist Anthropology, and Gender in Global Perspective. The book introduces students to contemporary debates and perspectives in the study of gender in anthropology through 45 short, engaging, cleary written articles that demonstrate the power of rich ethnography to pose, elaborate, complicate or challenge theoretical claims.

In addition to these book length projects, she has edited numerous special issues and books on such topics as gender and human rights, activisms, gendered modernities, the comparative study of the indigenous rights movement in Africa and the Americas, gender and pastoralism, gender and social change in Africa, and the legacies of late colonial development.