Selected Publications

Below are various pieces I have written for academic and popular audiences, roughly categorized into six groups.

Recent, Shorter Essays

The Future Has Been Colonized: Stuck in the Zero Balance Economy.” Boston Review (2020).

Perpetual Debt in the Silicon Savannah.” Boston Review (2019) (w/ Emma Park).

Between the Nation and the State.” Limn 7 Public Infrastructures/Infrastructural Publics. (w/ Emma Park).

Economic Sovereignty & Smuggling

Magendo: Arbitrage & Ambiguity on an East African Frontier,” Cultural Anthropology 36(1): 110-137. (PDF)

Money, Finance, and Debt

“‘Financial Inclusion Means Your Money Isn’t With You’ – The Conflict Over Social Grants and Financial Services in South Africa.” In Bill Maurer, Smoki Musaraj, and Ivan Small (eds.) Money at the Margins: Global Perspectives on Technology, Financial Inclusion & DesignBerghahn Books. (2018) (open access version)

Mobile Money, More Freedom? The Impact of M-PESA’s Network Power on Development as Freedom.” International Journal of Communication 6, 2647-2669. (2012)

SIM Registration and Financial Inclusion in the Silicon Savannah.” Institute for Money, Technology & Financial Inclusion. (2013)

Mobile Money & Financial Inclusion: Growth, Impact & Emerging Issues.” In Information & Communication for Development 2012. Washington, D.C.: World Bank. (2012)

Infrastructure, Surveillance, Identification

Surveillance in Africa: Politics, Histories, Techniques.” African Studies Review 59(2). (September 2016) (with Philippe M. Frowd and A.K. Martin) (open access version)

  • Part of Surveillance in Africa,” a special forum in African Studies Review 59(2) 2016. Edited with Philippe M. Frowd and A.K. Martin.

Infrastructuring Aid: Materializing Humanitarianism in Northern Kenya.” Environment & Planning D: Society & Space 33(4): 732-748. (August 2015) (open access version)

The Biometric Imaginary: Bureaucratic Technopolitics in Post-Apartheid Welfare.” Journal of Southern African Studies 41(4): 815-833. (2015) (open access version)

New Surveillance Technologies and Their Publics: A Case of Biometrics.” Public Understanding of Science 24(7): 842-857. (October 2015) (with A.K. Martin) (open access version)

The Rise of African SIM Registration: The Emerging Dynamics of Regulatory Change.” First Monday 19, 1-2 (February 2014) (with A.K. Martin)

‘Development’ and its Permutations

The Rise of the Randomistas: On the Experimental Turn in Development Aid.” Economy & Society 47(1): 27-58(open access version)

“‘Development’ as if We Have Never Been Modern: Fragments of a Latourian Development Studies.” Development & Change 45(5) (September 2014) (open access version)

Seeing Like a Slum: Towards Open, Deliberative Development.” Georgetown Journal of International Affairs. Winter/Spring 2012. (pp. 97-104). (open access version)

Some Reviews

Review of How Our Days Became Numbered: Risk and the Rise of the Statistical Individual by Dan Bouk.” Journal of Cultural Economy, available at:

Review of Money from Nothing: Indebtedness and Aspiration in South Africa by Deborah James.” Allegra Lab (2015). 

The Responsibility of Mobile Money Intellectuals? A Review of (a) Due Diligence by Roodman, (b) Money, Real Quick by Omwansa and Sullivan, and (c) The End of Money by Wolman. Information Technology & International Development 9(1). (2013)

Surfing the Internet in Ghana: A Review of Invisible Users by Jenna Burrell.” Los Angeles Review of Books. (2012) (Accompanying blog post.)

Some Op-Eds

Kenyans Need a Universal Basic Income.” The Star (2020) (w/ Robert Mwanyumba)

Privacy for the Other 5 Billion.” Slate (2013). (with Carly Nyst).