Skip to main content

Hsain Ilahiane


Ph.D., University of Arizona, 1998. 



As an applied socio-cultural anthropologist, my research endeavors deal with an array of themes from small-scale oasis farming through international migration and resource management to information and communication technologies for development.  I have carried out my research in Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa, specifically in Morocco, Uganda, Kenya and South Africa, and my areas of theoretical interest are globalization, development and information and communication technologies, and political ecology.  Over the last eight years, I have been working with funding from Intel Corporation to study ways to make mobile technology accessible and productive to the rural and urban populations of the developing world.  These attempts are geared towards reducing abject poverty and making a difference in the lives of the underserved poor.

During my tenure as a Visiting Senior Researcher at Intel Corporation from 2006-2007, I was involved in two major research projects.  The first examined the use of Islamic charitable institutions (waqf and zakat) to fund sustainable community-based technology development schemes in Morocco.  The second project examined cross-cultural and religious meanings of money and monetary innovation in Kenya and South Africa, particularly around the use of cell phones for mobile financial services for the poor and the unbanked.

From 2001-2004, in a multi-year research project funded by Intel Corporation, I investigated the social and economic effects of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in Morocco, particularly ways in which mobile phones accommodate and redefine the cultural and economic strategies of urban and rural user communities.  The widening of the circles of those affected by mobile phones has empowered a large portion of the masses to participate in the new economy.  Use of mobile phones means not only more technical skills and upward social mobility, but also competing investment strategies and the erosion of boundaries and exclusivities that previously defined economic and social relationships among communities and social actors.

Previous research I have undertaken investigated the effects of international standards, or globalization, on traditional olive oil production technologies used by small-scale farmers in southern Morocco; the commodification of ethnicity; community-based resource management; the relationship between ethnic stratification and agricultural intensification; and the impact of international migration revenue streams on patterns of power relations among Berbers, Arabs, and Haratine (Blacks) in southern Morocco.

Research Interests: 

Development; poverty; globalization; information and communication technologies for development; informal sector; oasis farming; community-based resource management; ethnicity; Islam; applied anthropology; economic anthropology; political ecology; ethnography; Middle East; Africa. 

Courses Taught (graduate courses in italics):

  • Religion in Everyday Life, ANT 355. (University of Kentucky).
  • Cultural Diversity in the Modern World, ANT 160.  (University of Kentucky).
  • Development and Change in the Third World, ANT 340. (University of Kentucky).
  • Contemporary Muslim Societies, ANT 352.  (University of Kentucky).
  • Anthropological Research Methods, ANT 490. (University of Kentucky).
  • Senior Integrative Seminar (Technological Innovation, Social Change, and Development, ANT 582.  (University of Kentucky).
  • Research Design, ANT 662.  (University of Kentucky).
  • Graduate Seminar (Socio-cultural Dimensions of Economic Development), ANT 637. (University of Kentucky).
  • Graduate Seminar in Applied Anthropology, ANT 725. (University of Kentucky).
  • Graduate Seminar (Technology, Society, and Development), ANT 770. (University of Kentucky).
  • Globalization and the Human Condition, Anthr 230. (Iowa State University).
  • Contemporary Muslim Societies, Anthr 250.  (Iowa State University)
  • Cultural Anthropology, Anthr 306. (Core course, Iowa State University).
  • Magic, Witchcraft, and Religion, Anthr 340/540 (Iowa State University).
  • Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East, Anthr 335/535. (Iowa State University).
  • Ecological Anthropology, Anthr 442/542. (Iowa State University).
  • Culture Change and Applied Anthropology. Anthr 411/511. (Iowa State University).
  • History and Theory of Anthropology, Anthr 450. (Iowa State University).    
  • Ethnographic Field Methods, Anthr 530. (Iowa State University). 
  • Orientation to Anthropology, Anthr 591.  (Iowa State University). 
  • Global Seminar: Environment and Sustainable Food Systems, Anthr 597X, team-taught. (Iowa State University).  
Selected Publications:
  • In Press The Second Edition of the Historical Dictionary of the Berbers (Imazighen).

  • 2016 Re-working the Institution of Waqf (Islamic trust) for the Financial Sustainability of Information Technology Schemes in Morocco.  In Cultural Anthropology: Contemporary, Public, and Critical Readings, edited by Keri V. Brondo.  Pp. 382-389.  New York: Oxford University Press.

  • 2016 Introduction: Technologies and the Transformation of Economies.  Economic Anthropology 3 (2): 191-202. (With Marcie L. Venter).

  • 2014 Mediating Purity: Money, Usury and Interest, and Ethical Anxiety in Morocco.  Human Organization 73 (4): 315-325.

  • 2013 Catenating the Local and the Global in Morocco: How Mobile Phone Users Have Become Producers and Not Consumers.  Journal of North African Studies 18 (5): 652-667.

  • 2012 The Problematics of the “Bottom of the Pyramid” Approach to International Development:  The Case of Micro-entrepreneurs’ Use of Mobile Phones in Morocco.  International Technologies and International Development 8 (1): 13-26. (With John W. Sherry).

  • 2011 Mobile Phone Use, Bricolage, and the Transformation of Social and Economic Ties of Micro-entrepreneurs in Urban Morocco.  International Journal of Business Anthropology 2 (1): 31-69.

  • 2008 Joutia: Street Vendor Entrepreneurship and the Informal Economy of Information and Communication Technologies in Morocco.  Journal of North African Studies 13 (2): 243-255.  (With John W. Sherry).

  • 2008 Integrated Land and Water Management in Morocco: Perspectives from the Ziz Oasis. In Community-based Integrated Land and Water Management: Case Studies and Lessons Learned from Africa, edited by L. Berry, D. Campbell, and G. Jewitt.  Pp. 38-54.  New York: UNEP.

  • 2007 ICT4D ? ICT4X: Mitigating the Impact of Cognitive Heuristics and Biases in Ethnographic Business Practice.  In Proceedings of the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference 2007, organized by M. Cefkin and K. Anderson. Pp. 122-131.  (With Tony Salvador, John W. Sherry and Wilton Agatstein)

  • 2006 The Historical Dictionary of the Berbers (Imazighen). Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, Inc.

  • 2005 Water Conflict and Time Perception in the Upper Ziz Valley, Morocco.  Prologues 32 (Hiver): 66-74.

  • 2004 Ethnicities, Community Making, and Agrarian Change: The Political Ecology of a Moroccan Oasis.  Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

  • 2004 Les rituels de (véritable) rébellion des Haratines: élections et ethnicités dans l’oasis du Ziz.  In Scènes et coulisses de l’élection au Maroc: Les législatives 2002, edited by M. Bennani-Chraïbi, M. Catusse, and J.C. Santucci.  Paris: Les éditions Karthala.

  • 2003 Navigating Multiple Networks: ICTs, Multinationals and Development. In Connected for Development: Information Kiosks and Sustainability, edited by A. Badshah, S. Khan and M. Garrido. Pp. 25-34. ICT Task Force Series 4. New York: United Nations Information and Communication Technologies Task Force. (With John Sherry and Tony Salvador)

  • 2003 Making Histories on Location: International Migration and Social Change in Southern Morocco.  The Maghreb Review 28 (1): 27-40.

  • 2002 Islanders and Mainlanders: A Critical Review of the Anthropological Literature.  In Islanders and Mainlanders: Prehistoric Context for the Southern California Bight, edited by J. H. Altschul and D. R. Grenda.  Pp.  11-40. Tucson, AZ: SRI Press. (With Jeff Altschul).

  • 2001 The Social Mobility of the Haratine and the Re-working of Bourdieu’s Habitus on the Saharan Frontier, Morocco.  American Anthropologist 103 (2): 380-394.

  • 2001 The Break-up of the Ksar Community: Settlement Change Patterns and Environmental Management in Southern Morocco.  Africa Today 48 (1): 21-50.

  • 2001 Sources for the Socio-economic Study of Rural Morocco.  International Journal of Middle East Studies 33: 271-290.   (With Thomas K. Park).

  • 1999 Berber Agdal Institution: Indigenous Range Management in the Atlas Mountains. Ethnology 1: 21-45.

  • 1996 Small-Scale Irrigation in a Multi-ethnic Environment: The Case of Zaouiat Amelkis Village, Southeast Morocco.  Journal of Political Ecology (3): 89-106.

  • 1996 Rapid Rural Appraisal of Arid Lands Irrigation: A Moroccan Example.  In Canals and Communities: Small-Scale Irrigation Systems, edited by J.B. Mabry.  Pp. 119-138. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. (With John Welch and Jonathan Mabry).