Melissa Beresford

Grad Teaching Associate
Graduate Assistant/Associate
TEMPE Campus

Student Information

Graduate Student
Liberal Arts & Sciences


Melissa Beresford is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University. She received her M.A. in Social Science from the University of Chicago and her B.A. in Urban Studies and Planning from the University of California, San Diego.

As an economic anthropologist, Melissa's research investigates how people adapt to structures of power and inequality in economic systems. Her work to date has explored three avenues of inquiry: (1) cultural understandings of the economy (2) how people imagine and enact alternative economies and (3) how alternative and diverse economies allow people to secure livelihood, acquire fundamental resources (e.g. water and food), and strive for social change. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council with funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Arizona State University, and has appeared in World Development, the Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, and Community Development Journal. Her current research, based in Cape Town, South Africa, examines how entrepreneurs across South Africa's economic landscape are attempting to develop new economic realities in the context of the country's incomplete post-apartheid economic transformation.

Melissa has been trained in a wide array of social science research methods and is passionate about the exchange of methodological expertise with other social scientists through research and publication on research methods themselves. Her methodological research on qualitative data analysis has appeared in Human Organization and the International Journal of Qualitative Research. She teaches workshops on Qualitative Data Analysis for the National Science Foundation Research Methods in Anthropology training program and Arizona State University's Institute for Social Science Research. She also teaches the graduate-level online Text Analysis course through the University of Florida, which was developed through the National Science Foundation Research Methods in Anthropology training program and is open to all professional researchers, graduate students, and advanced undergraduates.

Melissa also teaches various undergraduate classes at ASU including Food and Culture, the Research Practicum, and the Senior Research Seminar. She is committed to inclusion and access to higher education, seeing high-quality online education as a key element in this endeavor.  From 2012 through 2015 she supervised the development of the online Anthropology and Global Health programs in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at ASU, including collaborating on building over a dozen new online courses in anthropology and global health. Based on this experience, she and her colleagues designed and now teach "Online Teaching 101" as a workshop at the American Anthropological Association and Society for Applied Anthropology annual meetings in order to share best practices for teaching anthropology in an online environment.



Ph.D., Anthropology, Arizona State University, 2012-2018

M.A., Social Sciences/Anthropology, University of Chicago, 2007-2008

B.A., Urban Studies and Planning, University of California, San Diego, 2001-2005


Economic anthropology; institutions; global capitalism; inequality; development; entrepreneurship; alternative economies; water and food; ethnographic research methods; text analysis; South Africa & United States


Google Scholar

Research Interests

  • Cultural understandings of the economy
  • How people imagine and enact alternative economies
  • How diverse and alternative economic practices allow people secure livelihood, acquire fundamental resources (e.g. water, food), and strive for social change
  • Methods for ethnographic research and qualitative data analysis



Spring 2015
Course Number Course Title
ASM 414 Urban and Environmental Health
Spring 2014
Course Number Course Title
ASB 300 Food and Culture
Fall 2013
Course Number Course Title
SSH 405 Sr Seminar in Global Health