Zoë takes an ‘everyday’ approach to city living that aims to shift the narratives of crisis and development that continue to dominate the writing on African cities. 

Her research explores seemingly mundane manifestations of urbanity – such as Art Deco buildings, deep-fried snacks and nostalgia – asking what these tell us about how Mombasans construct relations of proximity and distance to others in the city and beyond. The second area of her research considers the everyday consequences of rising insecurity, related to Kenya’s central role within the global ‘War on Terror’. Rather than violence and state counterterrorism initiatives, she examines how security shapes the design of homes and the transformation of religious rituals.

Zoë has a PhD in Social Anthropology (2018), and MA degrees in Social Anthropology (2011) and Anthropological Research Methods (2013), from SOAS, University of London. She has taught in the Anthropology department at SOAS for a number of years, most recently co-convening the Migration and Diaspora Studies programme, as well as teaching on the Anthropology of Food. Outside of academia, she has worked for UNCTAD (the UN Conference on Trade and Development), as well as various trade-related NGOs. She has conducted research in Kenya, Cote d'Ivoire, Tanzania, Kyrgyzstan and the UK.     

During her Fellowship at IIAS, Zoë is developing publications based on her doctoral research, and supporting further collaboration between IIAS partners in Africa and Asia. The articles and book manuscript will contribute to the anthropological literature on African cities, South Asian diasporas and Indian Ocean cosmopolitanisms, as well as insecurity, architecture and Islam on the Swahili coast.