Lauren Coyle is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Princeton University. She trained as a cultural anthropologist and as a lawyer. She received a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago (2014) and a J.D. from Harvard Law School (2008). Her research and teaching interests lie at the intersections of legal and political anthropology, critical theory, historical ethnography, epistemology, spirituality, subjectivity, psychoanalysis, capitalism, dialectics, and symbolic power. Her geographical focus is on Ghana and, more broadly, on Africa at large. Most recently, she was a fellow at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies. Before this, she was a lecturer on law and social studies at Harvard, as well as a fellow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute in the Hutchins Center at Harvard.
Coyle is working on a book titled Fires of Gold: Law, Land, and Sacrificial Labor in Ghana, an ethnography of the often hidden violence and cultural transformation in the penumbra of Ghana's gold mining -- a signal sovereign dilemma and "poisoned chalice" for postcolonial Africa. Searing turmoil, fraught legal regimes, spiritual disruption, and novel political formations counterintuitively beset the most lucrative industry in the continent's most celebrated constitutional democracy. Fires of Gold argues that cultural beliefs and social practices that so many scholars are wont to disregard as outmoded – or, at least, as ancillary dimensions of more universal political, economic, and legal ways and means – are, in fact, critical sites of labor and social regeneration. Understanding these beliefs and practices is not only crucial for apprehending the workings of global extractive regimes. It also is essential to making sense of the worlds being (re)made by capitalism and its distinctive forms of law, politics, and governance in the twenty-first century.
She is also at work on a second book titled Law in Light: Truth, Temporality, and Ritual Power, a comparative anthropological study of the experiential and philosophical dimensions of ritual subjectivity and veracity. Coyle's recent work has appeared in Telos, Transition, and Rethinking Marxism, as well as in an edited volume, Corporate Social Responsibility? Human Rights in the New Global Economy (University of Chicago Press; Charlotte Walker-Said and John Kelly, eds.). She has an essay in press, "Fallen Chiefs and Sacrificial Mining in Ghana," in The Politics of Custom: Chiefship, Capital, and the State in Contemporary Africa (University of Chicago Press; John Comaroff and Jean Comaroff, eds.).
Coyle's research has been supported by awards and fellowships from several sources, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Social Science Research Council, American Council of Learned Societies, American Philosophical Society, Wenner-Gren Foundation, Lincoln Institute, Some Institutes for Advanced Study (SIAS), Institute for Global Law and Policy at Harvard Law, and Program on the Study of Capitalism at Harvard, as well as the University Center for Human Values and the University Committee on Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences at Princeton. In 2016, she was awarded a 250th Anniversary Fund Award for Innovation in Undergraduate Education at Princeton.
She currently serves as Associate Departmental Representative for the Department of Anthropology and as a Faculty Fellow for the Fung Global Fellows Program. She also sits on the executive committee of the Program in African Studies at Princeton.
Coyle will be on academic leave for AY 2017-2018.