Kellogg Institute Faculty Fellow Rahul Oka is a research associate professor in the Keough School of Global Affairs. Oka is an economic anthropologist and his research interests include the anthropology of urbanism, social network analysis, the development of complex socio-economic systems, applications of agent-based simulation modeling techniques to anthropology and archaeometry/materials analysis.  He focuses on the impact of trade, commerce, and traders on social, political, and cultural infrastructures. He has been a Kellogg Institute faculty fellow since 2009 and 2020.

Oka holds a PhD from the University of Illinois Chicago and Field Museum. 

Thematic Interests

Economic anthropolgy; 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 anthropolgy; African diaspora in Asia; South Asian anthropology

Current Research

Trading systems and networks in the disaster economies of western and northern Kenya and southern Sudan and 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; adaptive resilience and transformation in business networks and other socio-economic systems.

Research Sub-Discipline

Book Chapters


Journal Articles