A specialist of history and anthropology in Africa, Hunt focuses on matters medical, therapeutic, and gender, while paying attention to material objects, everyday technologies, visual culture, and violence. She has published articles and essays on reproductive politics, breastfeeding, nursing, letter-writing, bicycles, comics, and power in colonial situations; as well as on abortion in African novels; colonial technologies and postcolonial debris; and the acoustics of war and humanitarianism. Her first book, an ethnographic history set in the Belgian Congo and then Zaire, A Colonial Lexicon: Of Birth Work, Medicalization, and Mobility (Duke,1999), received the Herskovits Book Prize in 2000. A Nervous State: Violence, Remedies, and Reverie in Colonial Congo (Duke, forthcoming) analyses two intertwined domains--the securitization of therapeutic insurgency, and the medicalization of infertility--in a part of the Belgian Congo (1908-60), which became iconic as a zone of rubber extraction, war, and horrrific violence in the period when Congo was King Leopold’s Free State (1885-1908). She is also working on a condensed world history of health and medicine for Oxford University Press.
Since 1985, she had done field research and taught in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, and Burundi, under Social Science Research Council and Fulbright fellowships. A Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in 2001-02 and at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin in 2010-11, she was named a CICS Human Rights Faculty Fellow at Michigan for 2012-2013.
A Nervous State: Violence, Remedies, and Reverie in Colonial Congo. Durham and London: Duke University Press, forthcoming.
A Colonial Lexicon: Of Birth Ritual, Medicalization, and Mobility in the Congo. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1999.
“An Acoustic Register, Tenacious Images, and Congolese Scenes of Rape and Ruination,” in “Scarred Landscapes and Imperial Debris” Special Issue, edited by Ann Laura Stoler, Cultural Anthropology 23 (2008): 220-53.
“Rewriting the Soul in Colonial Congo.” Past & Present no. 198 (February 2008), 185-215.
“Between Fiction and History: Modes of Writing Abortion in Africa.” Cahiers d’Etudes Africaines 47, no. 186 (June 2007): 277-312.
"Tintin and the Interruptions of Congolese Comics," pp. 90-123 in Images and Empires: Visuality in Colonial and Postcolonial Africa, edited by Paul S. Landau and Deborah Kaspin. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.