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Dr Dena Freeman

Dena FreemanDr Dena Freeman is a specialist in Southern Ethiopia. She received a BA in Anthropology from the University of Cambridge (1994) and a PhD from the LSE (1999). She has been a Lecturer in the Department of Sociology & Anthropology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a Fellow at the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, a Junior Research Fellow at Queens' College, Cambridge and a Visiting Fellow at the University of Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. She was awarded the Curl Essay Prize by the Royal Anthropological Institute in 2000 and the Firth Prize by the LSE Department of Anthropology in 1998. She has also spent several years working in an applied context in the areas of International Development and Corporate Social Responsibility, carrying out consultancy work for a range of organizations including CARE International, The Ethical Trading Initiative, The Fairtrade Foundation, FARM-Africa, Insight Investment, SOS-Sahel and Sustainable Livelihood Action.

Her ethnographic work focuses on cultural transformation in the Gamo Highlands of southern Ethiopia, where she has been conducting fieldwork since 1995. Her doctoral work brings together anthropological and historical perspectives to explore processes of ritual transformation. Since then she has explored issues of marginalization, occupational groups and regional patterns of cultural variation. Her more recent work gives a village-eye view of contemporary processes of development, markets and moralities, and conversion to world religions, particularly Pentecostal Christianity.

Dr Freeman is currently exploring new research on the Anthropology of Wellbeing – looking at the interplay of economic, social, cultural, cognitive and physiological factors in the human experience of being well. As a small part of this she is carrying out fieldwork on contemporary 'wellbeing spirituality' in Israel and the UK.

Dr Freeman is also a Visiting Fellow at STICERD and an Associate of the Wellbeing Programme in the LSE's Centre for Economic Performance.

Selected publications:


Forthcoming. (Edited). The Pentecostal Ethic and the Spirit of Development: Churches, NGOs and Social Change in Africa.

2003. (Edited with Alula Pankhurst). Peripheral People: The Excluded Minorities of Ethiopia. London: Hurst.

2002. Initiating Change in Highland Ethiopia: Causes and Consequences of Cultural Transformation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Articles and Book Chapters

Forthcoming. Market Moralities: Corporate Social Responsibility, NGOs and the Business of Development. 

2009. Development and (Un)happiness: A Case Study from Rural Ethiopia. In Ura, K and D. Penjore. (Eds) Gross National Happiness: Practice and Measurement. Centre for Bhutan Studies, Thimpu.

2006. Who are the D’ache? And who are the Gamo?: Confusions of Ethnicity in Ethiopia’s Southern Highlands. In Uhling, Siebert (Ed) Proceedings of the 15th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

2003. Homeworkers in Global Supply Chains. Greener Management International 43: 1-12.

2002. From Warrior to Wife: Cultural Transformation in the Gamo Highlands of Ethiopia. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 8: 34-44.