Justin Haruyama

(He, Him, His)

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Office: LM4, 6th Floor
Office Hours: Wednesday: 2-3 pm, and by appointment
Email: justin.haruyama@ubc.ca

CV Download

Research Summary

China-Africa Relations; Political and Economic Anthropology; Mining; Jehovah’s Witnesses; Contact Languages; Capitalism from the South; Modes of Relationality; Non-Secular History; Postcolonial Theory; Indian Ocean Worlds; China; Zambia

Courses & Teaching

Anthropology of Social Stratification; Introduction to Cultural Anthropology; Anthropology of Religion


My work focuses on racialized conflict and labor migration, neocolonialism and resource extraction, Christianity and new religious movements, and emerging transformations in global capitalism in the context of interactions between Chinese and Zambian communities.




PhD, University of California, Davis

Research Interests & Projects

My current project, Mining for Coal and Souls: Modes of Relationality in Emerging Chinese-Zambian Worlds, addresses the controversial presence of Chinese migrants and investors in Zambia today. I explore the diverse forms of relationality enabled by China-Africa encounters, ranging from intimacy and fellowship, to exclusion, to mutual dependence and obligation. Drawing upon over two years of multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork in both Zambia and China, I examine relations at Chinese-operated coal mines in Zambia as well as in the hometowns of their miners in both countries. These mining contexts have engendered not only violence but also new linguistic, religious, and familial formations that put the very categories of “Zambian” and “Chinese” into variation. Taking issue with simplistic narratives that have too frequently painted Chinese companies and individuals in Africa as either neocolonial exploiters or South-South “win-win” development partners, I demonstrate how concrete encounters between Chinese and Zambians are far more ambivalent and open-ended than is often portrayed by such rhetoric about “China in Africa.”

Selected Publications & Presentations

In press. Shortcut English: Pidgin Language, Racialization, and Symbolic Economies at a Chinese-Operated Mine in Zambia. African Studies Review.

In press. Beyond “Conspiracy Theories”: COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy as a Failure of Biomedicine’s Moral Legitimacy in Africa. In Covid-19 Conspiracy Theories. Peter Knight and Michael Butter, Eds. New York, NY: Routledge. (Editor Invited)

2021. Op-ed: Is ‘Shang-Chi,’ now the pandemic era’s biggest film hit, merely stereotyped cliches?. Chicago Tribune, October 19.

2021. “The Truth Is Not Known”: COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy as a Failure of Biomedicine’s Moral Legitimacy in Zambia. Somatosphere, August 20.

2020. Going Viral in Hong Kong. Anthropology News, March 3. With Laura Meek and Ria Sinha.

2019. Don’t Blame Hong Kong Protesters or Police: Carrie Lam and Her Team Brought about This Crisis. South China Morning Post, November 21. Under pseudonym John Hu. With Laura Meek.

2009. Spinoza and the Axiomatic Method. Journal of Undergraduate Mathematics at Puget Sound, May.

Selected Grants & Awards

2022 Program in African Studies Postdoctoral Research Associate Fellowship, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (declined)

2022 Chinese Modernity and Soft Power on the Belt and Road Postdoctoral Fellowship, Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Hong Kong (declined)

2022 David M. Schneider Award, American Anthropological Association

2022 Council of Graduate Schools/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award Nominee, UC-Davis

2021 Graduate Student Paper Prize, African Studies Association

2020 Global Scholars Early Career Fellowship-Global and International Studies, UC-Irvine

2020 Graduate Student Paper Prize Citation, Society for East Asian Anthropology

2018 Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

2018 National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant

2017 Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship

Professional Services/Affiliations/Committees

Sustainability Lead, Canadian Anthropology Association (CASCA) 2024 Annual Meeting Planning Committee.

Committee Member, Graduate Student Editor Committee, African Studies Review.

Member, Experimental Ethnography Working Group, University of British Columbia.

Member, American Anthropological Association

Member, Society for Cultural Anthropology

Member, Association for Feminist Anthropology

Member, Society for the Anthropology of Religion


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