Zoe Marks Named Director of Harvard Center for African Studies


Zoe Marks, a lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, will serve as the next faculty director of the Center for African Studies, interim Harvard Provost John F. Manning ’82 announced Thursday.

Marks’ research focuses on African conflict and peacebuilding, gender and inequality, and African politics. Her recent research has centered around African rebellion movements and the role of women in revolutions.

Marks, who also serves as faculty dean of Pforzheimer House, will succeed Harvard Law School professor Ruth L. Okediji. Okediji served in the position for just under a year.

Manning told the Harvard Gazette, a University-run publication, that Marks is an “exemplary scholar and teacher,” who is well positioned to lead the center.


Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Hopi E. Hoekstra told the Gazette that Marks “truly embodies the Center for African Studies’ commitment to broadening knowledge about Africa and African perspectives.”

“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,” she said.

The appointment of an HKS professor to lead the center comes as the Kennedy School is undergoing its own leadership transition. Jeremy M. Weinstein, a political scientist from Stanford University, will take over as the next HKS dean on July 1.

Weinstein, who served as director of Stanford’s own Center for African Studies, may herald a new focus on international affairs — and particularly African studies — for the Kennedy School, which has faced criticism that it hasn’t done enough to adapt to its growing international student population.

Marks, who will remain on the faculty at HKS, told the Gazette that she looks forward to taking on the role at the Center of African Studies.

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

—Staff writer Elyse C. Goncalves can be reached at Follow her on X @e1ysegoncalves or on Threads @elyse.goncalves.