Dr Vito Laterza


    BSc. (London School of Economics)

    PhD. MPhil. (University of Cambridge)



Vito was a postdoctoral fellow in the Human Economy Programme, University of Pretoria, in 2013. He can be contacted at [email protected].

Vito received his PhD in social anthropology from the University of Cambridge in 2012. He is an anthropologist and organisational scientist interested in political, economic and socio-cultural issues in Africa and the West, from a global geopolitical perspective. He specialises in labour, economy, religion and ritual. He conducted long-term ethnographic research in Swaziland. He also carried out qualitative research in European contexts in the fields of educational technologies, health sciences and public engagement.

He held research and teaching positions at the University of Cambridge, University of Cape Town, University of the West of England and University of Worcester. His work has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the Joint Information Systems Committee, the National Institute of Health Research, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the SAHEE Foundation and the Cambridge Newton Trust.

His doctoral dissertation is an ethnography of timber workers in a Swazi company town run by white southern African and North American Pentecostal Christian missionaries. This work explores the tensions and contradictions of the ongoing racial division of labour in Swaziland. Black Swazis continue to be exploited as cheap labour by white and foreign investment, under the ambivalent rule of a monarchy that embraces traditionalism while perpetuating profitable alliances with capital. Workers’ and managers’ struggles for resources go hand in hand with the search for a place in a precarious and fast-changing world, informed by conflicting ideologies and shaped by local practices of solidarity and reciprocity.

This research informs two book projects: a public anthropology manuscript seeking to explain the Swazi socio-political system to a wider audience, titled “The Holographic Kingdom: tradition, development and politics in contemporary Swaziland”, co-authored with Bob Forrester; and an ethnographic monograph of Swazi timber workers.

Another stream of research focuses on comparative work on the Southern African economy studied as an integrated system crossing national boundaries and influenced by the historical patterns of the regional mining economy. The first step of this long-term project is the workshop “Land, money and human relations in Southern Africa: people’s economic strategies combining city and countryside”, to be held in Pretoria in September 2014 (convened with John Sharp).

Vito also contributes commentary and analysis to various magazines, including Al Jazeera English, GlobalPost and Mail&Guardian, and is the founding editor of the Human Economy Blog.


Vito's publications include:


2013. The Human Economy Project: First Steps (co-edited with John Sharp and Theodore Powers), Anthropology Southern Africa 36(3&4).



Evans, D., Laterza, V. et al. (In Press). ‘Public Involvement in Research: Assessing Impact through a Realist Evaluation’. Peer-reviewed project report. Funder: National Institute of Health Research, UK.

Laterza, V. (2013) ‘Some Notes towards a Human Economy Approach’ Anthropology Southern Africa 36(3&4) pp.135-138.

Sharp, J., Powers, T. and Laterza, V. (2013) ‘The Human Economy Project: First Steps’ Anthropology Southern Africa 36(3&4) pp.99-101.

Laterza, V., Forrester, B. and Mususa, P. (2013) ‘Bringing Wood to Life: Lines, Flows and Materials in a Swazi Sawmill’. In: Gísli Pálsson and Tim Ingold (eds). Biosocial Becomings: integrating biological and social anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Laterza, V. (2010) ‘Swaziland: Cultural Expression, Daily Life, Economy’ In: World and Its Peoples – Sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania, VOLUME 7 SOUTHERN AFRICA Tarrytown, New York: Marshall Cavendish Corporation.

Laterza, V. (2010) ‘South Africa: Economy’ In: World and Its Peoples – Sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania, VOLUME 7 SOUTHERN AFRICA Marshall Cavendish Corporation: Tarrytown, New York.

Procter, R., Carmichael, P. and Laterza, V. (2008) ‘Co-interpretation of Usage Data: a Mixed-Methods Approach to the Evaluation of Online Environments’ International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches 2(1) pp.44-56.

Laterza. V. (2007) ‘The Ethnographic Novel: Another Literary Skeleton in the Anthropological Closet?’ Suomen Antropologi 32(2) pp.124-134.

Laterza, V., Carmichael, P., and Procter, R. (2007) ‘The Doubtful Guest? A Virtual Research Environment for Education’ Technology, Pedagogy and Education 16(3) pp. 249-267.

Carmichael, P., Procter, Laterza, V. and R., Rimpilainen, S. (2006) ‘Sakai: A Virtual Research Environment for Education’ Research Intelligence 96 (August) pp.18-19.



Swaziland: liberal democracy and its discontents (Al Jazeera English, 12/10/13)

Italy’s new government and the perpetuation of minority rule (Al Jazeera English,  03/05/13)

The Iron Lady is gone, but Thatcherism is alive and well (GlobalPost, 21/04/13)

Berlusconi’s new prominence casts shadows over Italy’s future (GlobalPost, 02/04/13)

Technocracy’s new bet: Mario Monti runs for premiership (Al Jazeera English, 04/01/13)

Innocence of Muslims: how fiction creates reality (Al Jazeera English, 19/09/12)

Lost opportunity for Zambian democracy (Mail & Guardian, 05/11/08)

Last edited by Lena Gronbach

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