Tom Neumark

Postdoctoral Fellow
Image of Tom Neumark
Norwegian version of this page
Phone +47-22858925
Postal address Postboks 1116 Blindern 0317 OSLO

Academic interests

I am a social anthropologist with a long-standing research interest in technology and welfare in East Africa. 

I research economic and ethical concerns in spaces of development and humanitarianism, both from the perspective of those who seek to change lives, and of those whose lives are the targets of intervention. I am interested in the particular role of innovation, new digital and financial technologies and data practices in East Africa. 

My current research is based at the Institute of Health and Society, and is part of the European Research Council (Starting Grant) project "Universal Health Coverage and the Public Good in Africa", led by Ruth Prince. This research explores the recent and rapid digitalisation and datafication of the health sector in East Africa and its role in the Universal Health Coverage agenda. This digital proliferation in health is part of a wider phenomenon in which the region has become a magnet for new, so-called “leapfrogging” techno-progressivist/utopian imaginaries embodied in a whole host of technologies from smartphones and tablets to distributed solar through to artificial intelligence. The research examines how hopes and valuations around different sorts of digital health technologies and data and its futures are played out in diverse spaces, from health clinics to hackathons. It situates these within a longer postcolonial, history of donor-funded development and global health in the East African region. 

My previous research has included social and humanitarian cash grants in Kenya, and off-grid renewable energy in Tanzania.


I studied at the University of Oxford and Durham University, before receiving my PhD in social anthropology from the University of Cambridge. Prior to my current position at the University of Oslo, I was a research fellow at the University of Edinburgh, and before that lectured in social anthropology at the University of Cambridge.

Grants, appointments and partnerships

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Institute for Health and Society and Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo (European Research Council: 2019-present)

Co-Investigator, mHEALTH-INNOVATE (led by NIPH), Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo (Norwegian Research Council FRIPRO: 2022-2025)

Research Fellow, Department of Social Anthropology, University  of Edinburgh (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council: 2018-2019)

Teaching Associate, Supervisor and Affiliated Lecturer, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge (2014-2018)

Honorary William Wyse Student/Domestic Research Studentship, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge (2010-2014)



Forthcoming. Caring Cash: Money, charity and the urban poor in Kenya. Pluto Press (anticipated publication 2022)

Peer-reviewed articles, and book chapters

2021. Solar Power and its Discontents: Critiquing Off-grid Infrastructures of Inclusion in East Africa. With Jamie Cross. Development and Change (Open Access)

2021. Digital health in East Africa: Innovation, experimentation and the market. With Ruth Prince. Global Policy 12 (6), 65-74 (Open Access)

2020. Trusting the poor: Unconditional grants and the caring bureaucrat in a Kenyan slum. Anthropological Quarterly 93 (2), 119-149

2019. Inequality. In A Research Agenda for Economic Anthropology (ed) J. G. Carrier. Edward Elgar Publishing.

2017. ‘A good neighbour is not one that gives’: Detachment, ethics and the relational self in Kenya. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 23, 748–764.

Non-peer reviewed articles and blogs

2020. The hype and hope of data for healthcare in Africa. Somatosphere.

2013. Surviving on identity. Vision – Cambridge University International Development Society (Easter Term) p.g. 10 - 11


Tags: Social anthropology, East Africa, Development and humanitarianism, Global health Digital and data, Renewable energy, Ethics and morality
Published June 20, 2019 1:13 PM - Last modified Sep. 15, 2021 8:08 PM