Rahul Oka

Research Associate Professor of Global Affairs and Anthropology

Rahul  Oka

E264 Corbett Family Hall
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556

(574) 631-8853

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Rahul Oka

Research Associate Professor of Global Affairs and Anthropology


Economic anthropology; ethnography of traders and trade; disaster commerce; refugee camp economies; development economies; complexities of development and relief; trade and urbanism; cultural ecology and political economy; social network analysis; complex adaptive systems; African anthropology; African diaspora in Asia; South Asian anthropology

At the Keough School

Rahul Oka is a research associate professor in the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame.

Research and Publications

Oka focuses on the impact of trade, commerce, and traders on social, political, and cultural infrastructures. An economic anthropologist, Oka researches the anthropology of urbanism, social network analysis, the development of complex socioeconomic systems, applications of agent-based simulation modeling techniques to anthropology, and archaeometry/materials analysis. He is a faculty fellow of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies.

Oka’s current research focuses on trading systems and networks in the disaster economies of western and northern Kenya and southern Sudan and their relationship to development; refugee-host interactions in northern Kenya; trade, urbanism, and politics, focusing on the institutionalization of poverty and inequality in South Asia and East Africa (past and present); violence and scapegoating of merchant and other transient groups; relationships between commercial groups and political regulatory institutions; and adaptive resilience and transformation in business networks and other socioeconomic systems.

Roka is co-editor of the forthcoming book Ecology, Economy and Culture: Human Adaptation in Tsavo, Southeastern Kenya (with Chapurukha M. Kusimba and Sibel Kusimba, Fieldiana Press). He is the author of several book chapters, and his work has also appeared in Hormones and Behavior, Economic Anthropology, American AnthropologistUrban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development, the Journal of Archaeological Research, and the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory.He holds a PhD from the University of Illinois Chicago and the Field Museum.