Zoë Goodman

Zoë Goodman is an urban anthropologist working in Mombasa, Kenya. She 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 the global ‘War on Terror’, of which the Kenyan coast has long been a key battleground. Rather than violence and state counterterrorism initiatives, she examines how imaginaries of terror shape how Mombasans design their homes and modify their religious rituals. To date, she has worked mostly with Mombasan Muslims of Gujarati origin who count generations of residence in East Africa. Bringing together these themes, her current book project is entitled Tales of the everyday city: Indian Ocean legacies and uncertain futures in Mombasa.

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 IIAS-ASC Joint Fellowship Zoë will focus on developing a book manuscript based on her doctoral research. The book 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. Zoë also plans to build on existing connections between the IIAS and the ASC by seeking funding to organise an international conference on African urban theory and the Indian Ocean, to be co-hosted by the IIAS and ASCL in 2020. This will be complemented by the initiation of a joint IIAS-ASC lecture series, fostering collaboration between the two Leiden-based institutes and laying the groundwork for the aforementioned conference.

Fellowship year: 
Dr. Z. (Zoë) Goodman
Former visiting fellow