Kerry Ryan Chance


Associate Professor



Kerry Chance is an Associate Professor of Social Anthropology at UiB, and a Non-Resident Du Bois Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University.

Her research focuses on two major topics in South Africa and the United States: (1) the politics of urban ecology at the intersections of gender, race, and class; and (2) the cultural dynamics of climate change, particularly their effects upon differentiated bodies. Broadly, her work examines how the urban poor, living on the precarious margins often without formalized work or basic infrastructure, come to inhabit political roles that transform economic and environmental relationships.

She has published multiple articles and book chapters, as well as a monograph titled Living Politics in South Africa’s Urban Shacklands. She has a forthcoming book, which is titled Habitable Air: Urban Inequality in the Time of Climate Change, and an edited volume, which is titled Liveability on the Frontlines of Climate Change.


Courses Taught

Anthropology of the Environment

Climate Politics

Power: Its Articulations and Disguises

New Technologies and the Future of the Human (co-taught)

Infrastructure in Africa

Introduction to Anthropology

Political and Legal Anthropology


Critical Approaches to Development in Africa

Economic Rights and Wrongs

Violence and Democracy

Africa, Modernity, and Ethnography

Research in Contemporary Urban Africa


See a complete overview of publications in Cristin.


2018 Living Politics in South Africa's Urban Shacklands

Forthcoming books

Habitable Air: Urban Inequality in the Time of Climate Change

Liveability on the Frontlines of Climate Change

Select Articles

2022 “Coughing Out: The Body Politics of Habitable Air in Petrochemical South Africa,” cArgo, Revue Internationale d’Anthropologie Culturelle & Sociale [Accepted – In Press].

2022 “Eco-Anxiety and Climate Urgency in the Mother City.” In the CLIMATE issue, edited by Robert Reid-Pharr. Transition. [Accepted – In Press].

2022 “Sustaining Ungovernability: Housing and Evictions During Covid-19 in Durban, South Africa.” In “Ethnographic Encounters with Destituent Power,” edited collection edited by Nikola García. POLAR, March 31, 2022,     

2020 “Governing Through Eco-Anxiety: South Africa’s Energy Hubs and Water Scarce Cities,” Cultural Anthropology, Theorizing the Contemporary, March 24,

2017 “How South Africa’s Urban Poor Use Land as a Legal Instrument.” In The Future of Economic Rights, edited by Katherine Young. Foreword by Amartya Sen. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

2016 “Ritual Technologies: Making Political Kinship and Digital Publics in South Africa’s Borderlands” In Out of Order: Popular Mobilization in South Africa, edited by Gary Minkley and Richard Pithouse. Fort Hare, South Africa: Fort Hare University Press.

2015 “Where There is Fire, There is Politics: Ungovernability and Material Life in Urban South Africa.” Cultural Anthropology. Issue 30 (3): 394-423.

2015 “Sacrifice After Mandela: Liberation and Liberalization Among South Africa’s First Post-Apartheid Generation.” Anthropological Quarterly. Issue 88 (4): 857-878.

2015 “Transitory Citizens: Contentious Housing Practices in Contemporary South Africa.” Social Analysis. Volume 59 (3): 62-84.

2015 “Slum-As-Infrastructure: How the Politics of Informality Shapes South Africa’s World Class Cities.” In Spatializing Politics: Essays on Power and Place, edited by Delia Wendel and Fallon Samuels Aidoo. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

2014 “Legacies of Fear: From Rodney King’s Beating to Treyvon Martin’s Death.” In “The L.A. Riots: 20 Years Later” journal special issue, edited by Kerry Chance and Laurence Ralph. Transition. Issue 113: 137-170.

2014 A Review of Giorgio Agamben’s The Highest Poverty.”  Journal of Southern African Anthropology. Volume 37 (1-2): 138-140.  


Institutional Affiliations

2022-26 Marie Sklodowska Curie Fellow, The Sorbonne, Paris, France

2021-2022 Visiting Researcher, Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS), MIT, Cambridge, MA

2019-23 Research Associate, Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER), the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


Current Projects

  2021-2026  Principal Investigator, “Habitable Air,” Research Council of Norway Project


Affiliated Researcher, “Egalitarian Futures Research Group (FUTURES),” Research Council of Norway Project



Affiliated Researcher, “Urban Enclaving Futures,” Research Council of Norway Project


Affiliated Researcher, “Frontlines of Value: Class and Social Transformation in 21st Century Capitalism,” Research Cluster, Research Council of Norway Project


Større forskningsstipend og stillinger

2021-2025 FRIPRO Ground-breaking Research Grant, Research Council of Norway

2021-2025 Marie Slodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship, European Commission

2019-2020 Wenner Gren Post-Ph.D. Fellowship

2018-2021 Non-Resident W.E.B. Du Bois Fellow, Harvard University

2015, 2016 Sheila Biddle Ford Foundation Fellowship, Harvard University

2014, 2015 Oppenheimer Fellowship, Harvard University

2013 National Endowment for the Humanities

2011, 2012 College Fellowship, Harvard University

2012 American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), New Faculty Fellowship

2008 Fulbright-Hays, Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad

2008 Wenner-Gren Foundation, Dissertation Research Grant

2008 Social Science Research Council, International Dissertation Research Fellowship

2008 Mellon Fellowship in Humanistic Studies