Dr. Merryman holds a Ph.D. in anthropology and a Certificate of African Studies from Northwestern University. Following the completion of his undergraduate degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University he joined the U.S. Peace Corps and served a two year term in Kenya as the Personal Assistant to the National Head of Animal Production at the Ministry of Agriculture in Nairobi. He conducted the first national livestock census and assisted in the development of the African small-holder dairy industry with UNICEF funding.
Dr. Merryman served an additional three-year volunteer stint with a private N.G.O in Kenya’s arid north. Drawing on his practical agricultural experience from a farm upbringing in Nebraska, he initiated and managed an agricultural-irrigation project for destitute famine victims, former camel herding nomads, who had lost their livestock to drought and international conflict between Kenya and Somalia. The Oxfam funded pilot project was used as a model for further agricultural development along the Tana River including a project proposal he designed for Swedish Government funding.
Merryman returned to Kenya as a Fulbright Scholar and Ford Foundation grant recipient to conduct his dissertation field work. The thirty-month study focused on the adaptive response of arid lands peoples to environmental stress, particularly drought, in the twentieth century.
During the 1980’s he worked for four years in Somalia developing socio-economic baseline studies for U.S. Agency for International Development, World Bank and the UN High Commission for Refugees as a member of multi-disciplinary teams engaged in arid lands and river basin development and refugee reforestation. In the course of these projects, Dr. Merryman worked as an effective advocate in protecting the land rights of disenfranchised minority ethnic groups whose needs are frequently ignored by their own governments.
In early 1993, he was summoned to Washington, D.C., along with five of his development colleagues, to advise the Asst. Secretary of State and members of the Joint Chiefs regarding U.S. military intervention in Somalia.
Professor Merryman has led Wilkes students on study tours for the past eleven years. His travels have included Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Rwanda, Tunisia, China, Tibet, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Panama. In 1998 Dr. Merryman was on tour in Kenya with a group of twenty travelers when the US Embassy was bombed in Nairobi. He is a fluent speaker of Swahili, the lingua franca of East Africa. After twelve years and twenty-five trips, he’s at home in Africa’s rugged terrain and a veteran of the continent’s, occasionally, volatile political landscape.
2010 Pilot Study: Socioeconomic and Health Impacts of Clean Water Wells in Masindi District, Uganda in Conjunction with Busoga Trust America. Funded by Wilkes University. Research postponed until summer 2011.
2009 Dark Safari: A Memoir of Africa, submitted to literary agents for intended publication.
2001 “Anthropology and the Study of Aboriginal and Tribal Peoples: Lessons Learned From the Past, Models for the Future,” In Journal of Manchu Studies, No. 2,2001, Serial No. 33. Presented as the keynote speaker, Conference on Chinese Minority Studies. Harbin, China. Aug 2001. Translated byYin Tiechao
1996 "Surviving the Next Millenium: Anthropological Perspectives on Peace and War," a chapter in solicited by the United States Institute of Peace, Washington, D.C. for publication in a volume on developing curricula and teaching peace issues at the university level.
1996 "The Economy of Gedo Region and the Rise of Small-holder Irrigation: Political-economic implications for Development in Somalia." In War for Land in Somalia. Catherine Besteman and Lee Cassanelli, eds. Harper Collins, NY.
1995 “Sour Milk: Somali Adaptations in Northern Kenya”, anethnographic video produced by Jim Merryman, Dana Nolfe, Eric Freeland. Wilkes University.
1995 "Somalia and the U.N.," an op ed piece in the Christian Science Monitor also in The News, Mexico City.
1994 War and Ethnic Out-Groups, a paper delivered at the First Somali Interriverine Studies Meetings, Toronto.
1993 US Intervention in Somalia, a briefing with members ofThe Joint Chiefs and Assistant Secretary of State delivered along with four other Somalia experts, 1/1993
1993 Ethnicity, Equality and Economy: Impacts of the Somali Conflict on the Interriverine Populations, a paper delivered at the African Studies Association Meetings, Boston.
1993 Reinventing Humanity for Survival in the Twenty-first Century: Salvaging Our Best Through Prehistory and Multiculturalism, The Final Word Lecture, Wilkes University. Wilkes University Press: Wilkes-Barre.
1989 Jubba Environmental and Socioeconomic Baseline Studies Final Report. Prepared under USAID contract number AFR-0134-C-00-5047-00. K. Craven, J. Merryman and N. Merryman. Associates in Rural Development: Burlington, VT
1989 Resettlement and Other Development Issues of the Jubba Valley. Unpublished paper presented at the African Studies Association Meetings, Atlanta, GA, two-part panel on Rural Crisis in Somalia.
1987 The Economic Impact of War and Drought on the Kenya Somali." In Research in Economic Anthropology, Vol 8. Barry Issac, ed. JAI Press: Greenwich, CT
1986 Rural Development and Agropastoralism in the Bay Region of Somalia: Implications for Famine and Food Policy. Unpublished manuscript.
1985 Final Evaluation Report of the Refugee Reforestation Project in Somalia. John Blumgart, James Merryman and Timothy Resh. Prepared for USAID, Mogadishu.
1985 A History of the Center for Developmental Change Prepared for the Twentieth Anniversary Observance, November 1, 1985. University of Kentucky Printer: Lexington
1984 Socioeconomic Baseline Study of the Bay Region Agricultural Development Project in Somalia, Vols. I and II, Prepared under USAID Project Number 649-0113. Garth Massey, et al. Laramie: University of Wyoming
1984 Ecological Stress and Adaptive Response: The Kenya Somali in the Twentieth Century. Ph.D. Dissertation, Northwestern University. University of Michigan Micro-film Series, Ann Arbor. Funded by Fulbright Hays and The Ford Foundation. In-country research supervisor, Richard Leakey
1982 "Pastoral Nomad Settlement in Response to Drought: The Case of the Kenya Somali." In Involuntary Settle-ment and Forced Migration: The Responses of Dislocated Peoples. Art Hansen and Anthony Oliver-Smith, eds. Boulder: Westview Press. The chapter is based on a paper presented at the meetings of the American Anthropological Association. Washington, D.C., 1976
1982 The Potential for Agricultural Development in a Pastoral Society: A Sociological Study of the Peoples of Garissa District, No 8, Development Series. Co-authored with Nancy H. Merryman. Nairobi: Kenya Ministry of Cooperative Development.
1982 The Input Marketing Study of Mbeya Region for the Tanzania Rural Development Bank. Co-authored with Edward Weiler. Prepared for USAID, Dar-es-Salaam.
1980 Cultural Adaptations of Somalis in Northern Kenya. Paper presented at the First International Somali Studies Conference, Mogadishu, Somalia. Published in Conference Proceedings.
1980 The Use of Time-Depth Analysis in Development Planning for Garissa District, Kenya. Unpublished paper presented at the Conference on Ecological Stress in Eastern Africa, The International Louis Leakey Memorial Institute for African Pre-History, Nairobi, June 15-17, 1980.
1980 Somalia: Enchantment of Africa Series. Consulting Editor. Chicago: Children's Press.
1979 "Ecological Stress and Adaptive Response: A Study of Drought Induced Nomad Settlement in Northern Kenya." In The Pan Africanist
1976 Conference Proceedings: Workshop on Ecological Stress in Africa. Co-authored with Nancy Merryman. Program of African Studies, Northwestern University.
1976 "The Somali Cultivators of Kenya: A Study of Cultural Transition from Pastoral Nomadism to Sedentary Agriculture" (condensation of M.A. thesis, SUNY Binghamton) Appendix in Ecological Stress in Africa Working Paper. Program of African Studies, Northwestern University.
1972 "Camels to Cornfields." A narrated slide-set depicting the process of nomad sedentarization subsequent to drought. Developed with Nancy Merryman and Blair Seitz for Oxfam and the Mennonite Central Committee, Nairobi.
1972 Avenues for Development in Drought-stricken Northern Kenya: Conducted for the Mennonite Board, Nairobi