Thomas Cousins’s research interests include African anthropology, medical anthropology, science studies, kinship and sexuality, ordinary language, and labour/value. He is currently working on a book manuscript on labour, value, and the gut in the timber plantations of KwaZulu-Natal. He is also working on two ongoing projects: the first is to establish the iSimangaliso Humanities Hub, with support from the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences in South Africa, which aims to encourage ethnographic research in northern KwaZulu-Natal. One of the initial foci is a project examining the processes and forces that impinge on health, environment, and livelihoods between conservation, plantations, and mining. Here he is particularly interested in how science, governance, identity, and nature are mediated by rivers, wetlands, forests, and mines – i.e. how various forms of life are composed and integrated in ordinary life.
The second is a comparative project, between Cape Town and New Delhi, titled “Urban animals, human livelihoods and health in the global south: a trans-species approach”, funded by the Wellcome Trust, and in collaboration with colleagues at Oxford, Cambridge, Kings College London, and UCL. The project brings together scholars in India and South Africa to examine non-human life in relation to new forms of the urban, and the ways in which health is distributed across and composed by various human and non-human actors and processes.
As well as contributing to the anthropology of southern Africa and health, Cousins’s research engages with the anthropology of food and pharmaceuticals, the microbiome and non-human relations, and the governance of life in the global south. He welcomes applications for doctoral research and other collaborations in any of those areas.