Norman N. Miller is one of America’s early African field researchers, living in Kenya and Tanzania intermittently since 1960, first as a correspondent, then as a university teacher, researcher, documentary filmmaker, and adviser to African governments and two United Nations agencies. He has written or edited seven books and dozens of articles on topics such as East African political history, African wildlife management, HIV/AIDS policy, and traditional medicine, and led development projects for UNDP, WHO, UNAIDS, and UNEP. Miller is President of the African-Caribbean Institute, a UN- and Ford Foundation-supported research organization.
As a documentary filmmaker, Miller produced Faces of Change, a National Science Foundation-funded series of twenty-six films including five films each on Afghanistan, Bolivia, China, Kenya, and Taiwan. From 1972-1978, he directed overseas projects from a base at the National Film School in Beaconsfield, England, working closely with Colin Young, David MacDougall, James Blue, David Hancock, Herbert DiGioia, and Hubert Smith. Their approach was ethnographic or observational film production, and the filmmakers both shot and edited the material. The twenty-six films were accompanied by a textbook and instructional guides for use in college and secondary school classrooms; NSF estimated an audience of over three million, mainly in classrooms, used the material. At the Smithsonian, Miller helped found, with Margaret Mead, Pamela Wintle, and Richard Sorensen, the National Anthropological Film Center, which now holds his archived film, sound, and translation material. With Sorensen, he developed ideas of “visual evidence” as a tool of ethnographic film.
Miller holds a PhD from Indiana University in political science and African studies, and a certificate in Swahili from UCLA. In 1966 he joined the faculty of Michigan State University where he was founder and editor of Rural Africana, a research bulletin in the social sciences. He became Associate Professor at MSU in 1969 and shortly thereafter joined the American Universities Field Staff to report on East Africa. Miller conducted research under grants from the Ford Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, and Michigan State University, and taught at the University of Dar es Salaam and the University of Nairobi.
He is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Community and Family Medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College, having taught there part-time since 1980. At Dartmouth, he has taught courses in Cross-Cultural Medicine and Traditional Healing, as well as courses in the Departments of Environmental Studies and Anthropology. Current interests include African environmental issues, global health, and witchcraft and human rights. He is married to Judith von D. Miller, author of Art in East Africa, and lives in Norwich, Vermont.