Dr Juliet Gilbert BA Hons (Cantab), MSc, DPhil (Oxon)

Dr Juliet Gilbert

Department of African Studies and Anthropology
Assistant Professor in Social Anthropology and African Studies

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I am an anthropologist with a particular interest in youth studies, religion (especially Pentecostalism), insecure livelihoods, and aspects of popular culture (fashion, beauty pageants, mobile phones). My doctorate thesis focused on young women’s livelihoods in Calabar, southeastern Nigeria.


  • BA Hons in Geography (Cambridge)
  • MSc in Social Anthropology (Oxford)
  • MSc in Social Anthropology Research Methods (Oxford, funded by ESRC)
  • DPhil in Social Anthropology (Oxford, funded by ESRC)
  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


For my first degree I read Geography at Newnham College, University of Cambridge. I moved to St Peter’s College, University of Oxford, to gain an MSc in Social
Anthropology. This was followed-up with another MSc and a DPhil in Social Anthropology at Lincoln College, University of Oxford. I successfully defended my thesis in May 2014, and joined DASA in September 2014.


  • Introduction to African Societies (core module for first-year undergraduates)
  • Perspectives on Africa (core module for second-year undergraduates)
  • Theory, Ethnography and Research (core module for second-year undergraduates)
  • African Popular Culture (optional module for second- and third-year undergraduates)
  • Anthropology of Religion & Ritual (optional module for second- and third-year undergraduates)
  • Undergraduate dissertation supervision


Since 2010 I have been carrying out fieldwork in Calabar, Nigeria. My doctoral research was based on fifteen months research between 2011 and 2012. It asked how young women imagine their futures amid uncertainty, and examined the strategies they use in the present to realise their aspirations. Focusing on how this group fashion themselves as respectable young urban women ready for various opportunities to arise, my research drew on various aspects of young women’s lives: the home, church, learning skills, and beauty and fashion. Much of my fieldwork was spent in Pentecostal churches and prayer ministries, and at a sewing shop where I undertook my own sewing apprenticeship. I also followed the Carnival Calabar Queen pageant for two years as a focus for my research on Nigerian beauty pageants.

I am currently publishing articles from my doctoral research, and continue to focus forthcoming fieldwork on the insecurities of young women’s livelihoods in Calabar, Nigeria.

Other activities

  • Associate Scholar of Gender & Pentecostal Christianity: A comparative focus on Africa and Melanesia’ (GenPent), University of Bergen, Norway
  • Gibbs Travelling Research Fellow at Newnham College, Cambridge 2015-6


Recent publications


Gilbert, J 2024, Fashioning Futures: Uncertainty and young women's livelihoods in Calabar, Nigeria. International African Library, Cambridge University Press.


Gilbert, J 2019, 'Mobile identities: photography, smartphones and aspirations in urban Nigeria', Africa, vol. 89, no. 2, pp. 246. https://doi.org/10.1017/S000197201900007X

Gilbert, J 2016, 'The Heart as a Compass: Preaching Self-worth and Success to Single Young Women in a Nigerian Pentecostal Church', Journal of Religion in Africa, vol. 45, no. 3-4, pp. 307-333. https://doi.org/10.1163/15700666-12340048

Gilbert, J 2016, '‘They’re my Contacts, not my Friends’: Reconfiguring Affect and Aspirations Through Mobile Communication in Nigeria', Ethnos: journal of anthropology. https://doi.org/10.1080/00141844.2015.1120762

Gilbert, J 2015, '‘BE GRACEFUL, PATIENT, EVER PRAYERFUL’ : NEGOTIATING FEMININITY, RESPECT AND THE RELIGIOUS SELF IN A NIGERIAN BEAUTY PAGEANT', Africa, vol. 85, no. 03, pp. 501-520. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0001972015000285

Book/Film/Article review

Gilbert, J 2017, 'Paul Ugor and Lord Mawuko-Yevugah (editors), African Youth Cultures in a Globalized World: challenges, agency and resistance. Farnham: Ashgate (hb £110 – 978 1 4724 2975 9). 2015, 289 pp.', Africa, vol. 87, no. 3. <https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/africa/article/paul-ugor-and-lord-mawukoyevugah-editors-african-youth-cultures-in-a-globalized-world-challenges-agency-and-resistance-farnham-ashgate-hb-110-978-1-4724-2975-9-2015-289-pp/1A53183BEF414E226D0CB42C603A2833>

Gilbert, J 2013, 'Alcinda Honwana, The Time of Youth: work, social change, and politics in Africa, Sterling, VA: Kumarian Press (pb $27.95 – 9781565494725). 2012, 240 pp.', Africa, vol. 83, no. 4, pp. 694-696. <https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/africa/article/alcinda-honwana-the-time-of-youth-work-social-change-and-politics-in-africa-sterling-va-kumarian-press-pb-2795-978-1-56549-472-5-2012-240-pp/58BAAE8ECF9A80A2C7DE9F44AFD13A27>

View all publications in research portal