Zoe Marks appointed director of Center for African Studies

Zoe Marks.

Photo by Benn Craig

3 min read

Zoe Marks, lecturer in public policy at Harvard Kennedy School and leading scholar on conflict and peacebuilding in Africa, has been named Oppenheimer Faculty Director of the Center for African Studies (CAS).

“I am delighted that Zoe Marks has agreed to serve as the next director of the Center for African Studies,” said University interim Provost John F. Manning. “Zoe is an exemplary scholar and teacher whose deep expertise and collaboration with others in the field of African politics will position her well to support the center’s important work.”

“Zoe Marks truly embodies the Center for African Studies’ commitment to broadening knowledge about Africa and African perspectives,” said Hopi Hoekstra, Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “Her dedication to academic collaboration with leading scholars across the African continent and her deep experience working with intergovernmental organizations abroad will serve her well as she steps into this exciting role.”

Marks’ research explores conflict and peacebuilding, gender and intersectional inequality, and African politics. Her current research focuses on civil war and revolutionary movements, with two book projects underway. The first, “Anatomy of an African Rebellion,” examines how rebel groups come to present a viable threat to the state by providing an in-depth analysis of the 1991-2002 Sierra Leone Civil War. “Bread and Roses: Women at the Frontlines of Revolution,” co-authored with HKS’ Erica Chenoweth and currently under contract with Princeton University Press, documents the important role women have played in the success of violent and nonviolent mass movements globally— arguing that their involvement leads to larger, more successful movements characterized by gains in democracy and gender equality. She also studies peacebuilding and community reintegration after war, with ongoing projects using surveys and social network analysis to examine how exposure to violence has affected citizens and communities in the wake of conflicts in Northeast Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Marks teaches Kennedy School courses on race and racism in public policy, the dynamics of war, and Africa’s role in global politics. She also serves as faculty dean at Pforzheimer House. Prior to joining Harvard, she served as a Chancellor’s Fellow and Lecturer (tenured) at the University of Edinburgh, where she also directed the masters program in African Studies and the university’s Global Development Academy, and she has worked with non-governmental organizations across Europe, Africa, and the US. She holds a D.Phil in Politics and a M.Sc. in African Studies from the University of Oxford, and a B.A. in Government and African American Studies from Georgetown University.

Throughout her career, Marks has maintained a strong commitment to academic inclusivity and collaboration with scholars across the African continent.

“I’m thrilled by this opportunity to work with Harvard’s exceptional faculty, students, and staff to continue strengthening our connections across Africa,” said Marks.