Nathan Dobson


Nathan was a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Oxford. I received my doctorate from the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). My dissertation is based on long-term fieldwork with private security guards in Nairobi, Kenya.

I have extensive experience as a teacher and teaching assistant in the Anthropology Graduate Program at UCI, the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, the Center for African Studies at the University of Florida, and the Department of African Studies and Anthropology at the University of Birmingham, UK.

My research looks at everyday constructions of publicness as processes that shape political, legal and economic conditions globally. I am interested in research questions such as, what makes things public? And, how does material infrastructure influence ideas of the public? Answering these questions in the context of private security in Nairobi, Kenya, I looked at how private guards become the focus of grievances about the privatization of cities.

I continue to look at questions around private and public in my current position as part of a facebook-funded project looking at the use of internet shutdowns in different African countries. I work with a team of researchers in Ethiopia, Cameroon and Chad who will carry out interviews with government officials about the use of internet shutdowns as a technique to combat online hate speech and violence. The project uses a dynamic and reflexive approach to regulation and will document the logic, scope and techniques being used by governments in their attempts to regulate the internet.

I am interested in looking at how Science and Technology Studies can contribute to Socio-Legal Studies in African contexts. In particular, I am interested in using controversy analysis to study how issues are formed and raised online and how people and things are brought together in assemblages.

Research projects & programmes

Centre for Socio-Legal Studies