Damien Droney

  • Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Areas of Study


  • BA, anthropology, UCLA
  • PhD, anthropology, Stanford University


I am a cultural anthropologist with a research and teaching focus in medical anthropology, the anthropology of science and technology, and African studies. Most of my research to date is based in Ghana, where I’m interested in understanding the politics of health science and technology.

My book manuscript, Weedy Science: The Professional Politics of Herbal Medicine in Postcolonial Ghana, is an ethnographic study of the training of a new class of medical professionals who are intended to practice a form of herbal medicine backed by scientific research. I take this as an opportunity to consider the meanings and values associated with the cultural category of science in a postcolonial African nation. Based on research in classrooms, laboratories, and clinics, the book argues that the vocation of science in Ghana has been shaped by a set of projects to transform the politics of class, race, and nation since independence.

My current research investigates the design of affordable medical devices as well as the politics of food processing in Ghana. Throughout this work, I maintain an interest in developing the critical capacities of anthropological theory in ways that respects people’s hopes and aspirations.

At Oberlin, I teach Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Medical Anthropology, and Culture Theory, as well as seminars in topics like Biopolitics and Food, Health, and Culture. I welcome the opportunity to talk with students interested in any facet of these topics!

2021. “Alternative Medicine Devices and the Making of Scientific Herbal Medicine in Ghana.” Postcolonial Studies (Early View)

2021. “In the Path of the Black Panther: Science, Technology, & Speculative Fiction in African Studies.” Know: A Journal on the Formation of Knowledge 5 (1): 27–52.

2016. “Scientific Capacity Building and the Ontologies of Herbal Medicine in Ghana.” Canadian Journal of African Studies / Revue canadienne des etudes africaines 50 (3): 437–454.

2016. “Networking Health: The Multi-Level Marketing of Health Products in Ghana.” Anthropology & Medicine 23 (1): 1–13.

2014. “Ironies of Laboratory Work during Ghana’s Second Age of Optimism.” Cultural Anthropology 29 (2): 363–384.

Spring 2023

Introduction to Cultural Anthropology — ANTH 101
Culture Theory — ANTH 353
Biopolitics: The Governance of Life and Death — ANTH 435