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Maxim Bolt is a Reader (Associate Professor) in Anthropology and African Studies, University of Birmingham

Maxim Bolt is also Research Associate at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) at University of the Witwatersrand. He is an anthropologist working largely on questions of economy in southern Africa.

Maxim conducted his doctoral fieldwork along South Africa’s border with Zimbabwe, between 2006 and 2008, during acute economic and political troubles in Zimbabwe. His research focused on the border farms, their black workforces and their white landowners in this context of crisis, upheaval and displacement. His doctoral thesis was awarded runner-up in the biennial Audrey Richards Prize by the African Studies Association of the UK. The monograph that emerged from this research - Zimbabwe's Migrants and South Africa's Border Farms: The Roots of Impermanance (Cambridge University Press and Wits University Press) - won the 2016 British Sociological Association / BBC Thinking Allowed Ethnography Award.

Maxim has also worked as the anthropologist on the British Museum’s comparative, collaborative ‘Money in Africa’ project, alongside historians and an economic historian. As part of this project, he conducted fieldwork with small-scale businesspeople in Malawi, as well as interview-based research in central banks in Nigeria and Uganda.

Maxim's latest research is on wills, inheritance and class reproduction in South Africa's middle class. The project explores the processes through which wills and testaments are produced, and the disputes surrounding their execution. As more South Africans accumulate substantial property, its disbursement becomes a new terrain on which battles of kinship obligation are fought.


  • –present
    Maxim Bolt is a Lecturer in Anthropology and African Studies, University of Birmingham