Research Areas research areas


  • Casey Golomski is a cultural and medical anthropologist of Southern Africa who works mainly with communities in eSwatini (Swaziland) and South Africa. His humanistic and field-based research focuses on religion, health, and gender across the life course, surrounding perennial questions of life, death, and their thresholds.

    Based on years of field research, his first book, 'Funeral Culture - AIDS, Work, and Cultural Change in an African Kingdom' (Indiana University Press, 2018), is the first and yet only comprehensive account of the AIDS epidemic in Africa's last absolute monarchy, the Kingdom of eSwatini, also the country with the world's highest HIV prevalence for more than 15 years. Through the voices of people in rural and urban communities, churches, businesses, and NGOs, the book documents how citizens' grassroots responses to the epidemic drove changes and innovations in cultural and care practices that counteract what the state deems to be authentically 'traditional.' These findings show comparatively how disease epidemics, whether AIDS or COVID-19, are grounds for people to engage in cultural and political reform through ideologies of 'work.'

    His recent and ongoing research explores the effects of racist policies and practices on long term care for older adults in South Africa. By way of an old age home housing older white and black residents born at the start of apartheid being cared for by younger black staff of the 'born-free' post-apartheid generation, this project considers how people behold the legacies of racist violence and historical atrocities at the end of life. In addition to articles on aspects and histories of elder care, he is currently writing a biographically driven, creative non-fiction book that introduces readers to a diverse set of individuals living and working there--widows both young and old, vernacular healers and biomedical practitioners, former colonialists and anti-colonialist freedom fighters, and Nelson Mandela's Robben Island prison nurse--whose lives illuminate what it means to age in the 'new' South Africa and other multiracial, postcolonial countries globally.

    Funded by three Fulbright Fellowships, the Wenner Gren, Reed, Mellon, and Teagle Foundations, and institutional grants, his research and creative writing has been published in a range of anthropology, African studies, and literary journals as well as several edited volumes. As an invited speaker, he has given talks at Emory, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Wisconsin, and Michigan State and the Universities of Johannesburg, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Witwatersrand in South Africa where he is an ongoing Visiting Researcher. Previously, he consulted for UNICEF and was an associate editor for the African Journal of AIDS Research. Currently, he is a board member for the Northeastern Workshops on Southern Africa (NEWSA) and Seacoast African American Cultural Center (SAACC) where he supervises the student internship program and public cultural education through curation of their material culture collection. He is also a classical musician as a long-term member of the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra and a published poet, being recently awarded the Society for Humanistic Anthropology First Prize in Poetry.

    He is always happy to meet with and advise interested students and consult for community, public, and private organizations.
  • Selected Publications

    Academic Article

    Year Title
    2020 Countermythologies: Queering Lives in a Southern African Gay and Lesbian Pentecostal ChurchTransforming Anthropology.  28:155-168. 2020
    2020 Society for Humanistic Anthropology 2019 Writing AwardsAnthropology and Humanism Anthropology and Humanism Quarterly.  45:139-141. 2020
    2020 Greying mutuality: race and joking relations in a South African nursing homeAfrica.  90:273-292. 2020
    2020 "Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is a Mystery": Dying in South African Frail CareAnthropology & Aging.  41:9-23. 2020
    2019 Interrogating traditionalism: gender and Swazi Culture in HIV/AIDS policy. “50 Years of Swazi Independence” issue, V. Laterza, N.C. Dlamini, and N. Mkhwanazi, edsJournal of Contemporary African Studies.  1-16. 2019
    2019 Thumb WarAnthropology and Humanism Anthropology and Humanism Quarterly.  44:194-197. 2019
    2019 Thumb War. Anthropology and Humanism 44(2): 194-197 2019
    2018 Funeral Culture 2018
    2018 Elder Care and Private Health Insurance in South Africa: The Pathos of Race-Class.Medical Anthropology: Cross Cultural Studies in Health and Illness.  37:311-326. 2018
    2018 Work of a Nation: Christian Funerary Ecumenism and Institutional Disruption in SwazilandJournal of Southern African Studies.  44:299-314. 2018
    2017 Authority.Medical Humanities.  43:206. 2017
    2017 Christians' cut: popular religion and the global health campaign for medical male circumcision in Swaziland.Culture, Health and Sexuality.  19:844-858. 2017
    2017 “My Mother Got Annoyed”Annals of Global Health.  83:405-405. 2017
    2016 Blind spotMedicine Anthropology Theory.  3:158. 2016
    2016 Game Walk at PilanesbergAnthropology and Humanism Anthropology and Humanism Quarterly.  41:216-217. 2016
    2016 Religion and Migration: Cases for a Global Material EthicsAfrican Studies.  75:449-462. 2016
    2016 Outliving love: marital estrangement in an African insurance marketSocial Dynamics.  42:304-320. 2016
    2016 Risk, Mistake, and Generational Contest in Bodily Rituals of Swazi Jerikho ZionismJournal of Contemporary Religion Religion Today.  31:351-364. 2016
    2015 Urban cemeteries in Swaziland: materialising dignityAnthropology Southern Africa.  38:360-371. 2015
    2015 wearing memories: clothing and the global lives of mourning in swazilandMaterial Religion.  11:303-327. 2015
    2015 Compassion technology: Life insurance and the remaking of kinship in Swaziland's age of HIVAmerican Ethnologist.  42:81-96. 2015
    2014 Generational inversions: 'working' for social reproduction amid HIV in Swaziland.African Journal of AIDS Research.  13:351-359. 2014
    Aspects of ICT connectivity among older adults living in rural subsidized housing: reassessing the digital divideJournal of Enabling Technologies.  ahead-of-print.


    Year Title
    2018 Funeral Culture: AIDS, Work, and Cultural Change in an African Kingdom 2018


    Year Title
    2020 Beautiful Blessings: LGBTIQA Christians’ Reproductive and Parenting Aspirations..  38-44. 2020
    2018 Uhlanga. In African Religions: Beliefs and Practices Through History. Editors: Thomas, Douglas, Alanamu, Temilola, p. 241. ABC-CLIO Greenwood, Santa Barbara..  241-241. 2018
    2016 Polygamy, Polygyny, and Polyandry.  1-3. 2016
    2016 Purity versus Pollution.  1-2. 2016
    "Deathnography." Death Culture in the Twenty-First Century. S. Dawdy and T. Kneese, eds. Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research Press.
    “Dark Matter: Locating Death Pollution in Southeastern African Funerals.” Embodying Black Religions in Africa and its Diasporas: Memory, Movement, and Belonging through the Body. Y. Covington-Ward & J. Jouili, eds. Durham: Duke University Press

    Conference Paper

    Year Title
    "Securing Frailty: Black Aspirations for Senior Housing in South Africa"

    Teaching Activities

  • Global Population & Health Taught course 2021
  • Global Population & Health Taught course 2021
  • Honors Senior Thesis Taught course 2021
  • Peoples&Cultures/Sub-Saharan Taught course 2021
  • Peoples&Cultures/Sub-Saharan Taught course 2021
  • Gendr, Sex, HIV Sub-Sahara Afr Taught course 2020
  • Honors Senior Thesis Taught course 2020
  • The Body: Fat, Fitness & Form Taught course 2020
  • Global Perspectives:Intro Anth Taught course 2020
  • Africana Religions Taught course 2020
  • Medical Anth:Illness & Healing Taught course 2020
  • Global Perspectives:Intro Anth Taught course 2019
  • Gendr, Sex, HIV Sub-Sahara Afr Taught course 2019
  • Internship Taught course 2019
  • Medical Anth:Illness & Healing Taught course 2019
  • Peoples & Cultures/Sub Saharan Taught course 2018
  • Reading and Research Taught course 2018
  • Global Perspectives:Intro Anth Taught course 2018
  • Global Population & Health Taught course 2018
  • Peoples&Cultures of World\Hon Taught course 2018
  • PeoplesCultures:Sub-Sah Africa Taught course 2018
  • Reading and Research Taught course 2018
  • Gendr, Sex, HIV Sub-Sahara Afr Taught course 2017
  • The Body: Fat, Fitness & Form Taught course 2017
  • Medical Anthropology Taught course 2017
  • PeoplesCultures:Sub-Sah Africa Taught course 2017
  • Peoples&Cultures/SubSaharan Af Taught course 2016
  • Education And Training

  • B.A. Sociology, Saint Norbert College
  • Ph.D. Anthropology, Brandeis University
  • Full Name

  • Casey Golomski