Dr Maxim Bolt BA Hons (Oxon), MSc, MSc Research, PhD (LSE)

Dr Maxim Bolt

Department of African Studies and Anthropology
Lecturer in Anthropology and African Studies

Contact details

Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I am an anthropologist specialising in labour, migration, borders, development and the social dynamics of money. My research has been based in both university and museum settings. In addition to my current courses, I have taught on anthropology and development, globalisation, and surveys in ethnographic research.


  • BA Hons in Modern History and Politics (Oxford)
  • MSc in Social Anthropology (London School of Economics and Political Science)
  • MSc Research in Social Anthropology (London School of Economics and Political Science)
  • PhD in Anthropology (London School of Economics and Political Science)
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (Associate Level)


Maxim received his PhD in social anthropology from the London School of Economics in 2011. He had previously studied history and politics as an undergraduate at St Peter’s College, Oxford, and then social anthropology as a Masters student at LSE. Maxim took up a lectureship at Birmingham in 2012.

Maxim’s PhD thesis was Runner-up for the 2010-12 Audrey Richards Prize, awarded biennially by the African Studies Association of the UK, for the best PhD thesis on Africa examined in the UK.

In 2014, Maxim won the Head of School's Award and the Head of College's Award for Excellence in Teaching.


  • Theory, Ethnography and Research (core module for second-year Undergraduates)
  • Thinking Anthropologically (first-year introductory Undergraduate module)
  • Social Life of the Economy (optional module, on economic anthropology and sociology, for second- and third-year Undergraduates and for Masters students)
  • Gender and Development (optional module for second- and third-year Undergraduates)
  • Gender Issues in Africa (Masters level module)

Postgraduate supervision

Current PhD students:

  • Nimrita Rana (ESRC-funded) - The Sindhi diaspora in Ghana
  • Natasha Vally, University of the Witwatersrand - Social assistance and the card-based grant system in South Africa (ESRC External Supervisor)
  • Mary Thamari Odhiambo - Gender and marriage practices among Luo in south-western Kenya
  • Sangu Delle - A comparative study of female tech entrepeneurs in Africa


Maxim conducted his doctoral fieldwork along South Africa’s border with Zimbabwe, between 2006 and 2008, during acute economic and political troubles in Zimbabwe. His research focused on the border farms, their black workforces and their white landowners in this context of crisis, upheaval and displacement.

Since his PhD research, he has worked as the anthropologist on the British Museum’s comparative, collaborative ‘Money in Africa’ project, alongside historians and an economic historian. As part of this project, he has conducted research with central banks in Nigeria and Uganda, and with small businesspeople in Malawi.

Maxim's monograph, based on his PhD research, will be published in 2015 by the International African Institute and Cambridge University Press. It is entitled Zimbabwe's Migrants and South Africa's Border Farms: the roots of impermanence.

Other activities

  • Admissions Tutor, Department of African Studies and Anthropology
  • Departmental representative to AEGIS (the Europe-wide association of African Studies centres) and the UK Association of Social Anthropologists 
  • Member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
  • Member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Southern African Studies
  • Council Member of the African Studies Association of the UK
  • Research Associate at WiSER (the Wits Institute of Social and Economic Research), University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
  • Maxim has acted as expert advisor to NGO Concern Universal, regarding their research on rural financial practices in Malawi


Comments and Review articles

  • 2014. 'Transcending the economic: comment on Callebert's "Transcending dual economies"', Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 84(1).
  • 2013. ‘The dynamics of dependence’ (comment accompanying article by James Ferguson), Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 19(2).
  • 2013. 'The loan economy' (review article about Parker Shipton's The Nature of Entrustment), Anthropology of this Century 7.
  • 2013. 'The Citi Money Gallery, British Museum', Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 83(2).