In Memoriam: Jane Guyer, 1943-2024

Jane Guyer, professor emerita at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, passed away on January 17. She was 80 years old.

Dr. Guyer came to Johns Hopkins University in 2002. She held an endowed professorship, serving as the George Armstrong Kelly Professor of Anthropology, in addition to a second faculty appointment in the history department. Dr. Guyer later went on to serve as professor and co-chair of The Academy at Johns Hopkins University, which supports the continued research, teaching and service of retired faculty of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the School of Nursing. Prior to accepting a position with Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Guyer held faculty appointments at the University of North Carolina, Northwestern University in Chicago, Harvard University, and Boston University.

As a scholar, Dr. Guyer specialized in economic transformations in West Africa. She conducted research on the productive economy, division of labor, management of money, as well as the unstable relationship between formal and informal economies in the area. Her research eventually led her to authoring Marginal Gains: Monetary Transactions in Atlantic Africa (University of Chicago Press, 2004) as well as numerous article and journal publications. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She also served on the board of the African Studies Association, which honored her as a Distinguished Africanist in 2012.

“She was one of the most extraordinary minds in contemporary anthropology, and a person of such wisdom, generosity, and compassion at Johns Hopkins University, where she taught and led our department for many years,” said Anand Pandian, professor in the university’s anthropology department. “She was such a wonderful human, and she is missed so deeply. ‘No method of inquiry yields infallible results, but we nevertheless live in forward motion,’ Jane wrote in one of her many scintillating essays. That forward motion will endure in the thinking of the many devoted students, readers, and colleagues she mentored, taught, and continues to inspire.”

A native of Birkenhead, England, Dr. Guyer received her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the London School of Economics. She earned her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Rochester in New York

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