Norman Miller taught Political Science and African Studies at Michigan State University as an Assistant and tenured Associate Professor from 1966-1971. He was in the first group of American field researchers who worked for long periods of time in remote parts of East Africa. Miller’s academic perspective was the study of local government and politics, and he drew heavily on key concepts and field methodologies in political anthropology. His personal library has been donated to MSU. It is a diverse collection including field diaries, typed field notes, field surveys, research databases, unpublished manuscripts, books, periodicals, government publications, maps, still photos, and 16mm film.
The main holdings are from Kenya and Tanzania. Other areas represented in the collection include Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, and eastern Congo. Specific locations in which Miller worked include Nyeri and Marsabet Districts, Kenya, and Tabora, Rungwe, and Kisarawe Districts Tanzania. Miller’s perspective and initial field work was that of a political anthropologist. The ethnic groups of his specific interest were, in Kenya, the Kikuyu, the Digo, and the Boran, and, in Tanzania, the Nyamwezi-Sukuma, the Nyakyusa, and the coastal Zaramo.
His published work includes seven books, forty-two articles, and the founding editorships of three periodical publications, including Rural Africana (MSU, 1967+).
His work as an educational film producer includes twenty-six films in the Faces of Change series, and two films for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and US Agency for International Development. The National Science Foundation sponsored most of this work. Some of the original film negative material and photographs are now archived at the Smithsonian Institution’s Human Studies Film Archive. MSU holds a complete collection of his finished films and his collection of still photographic galleries.