Zoe Marks is a Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Her research and teaching interests focus on the intersections of conflict and political violence; race, gender and inequality; peacebuilding; and African politics.
Her current book project examines the internal dynamics of rebellion in Sierra Leone to understand how and why rebel groups can sustain a viable threat to the state without widespread support. It draws on nearly a decade of fieldwork, several hundred interviews with former combatants and community members, and private archives from members of the Revolutionary United Front. Professor Marks is leading a separate project that examines how wartime experiences shape individual wellbeing and community reintegration after war. Using surveys and social network analysis in Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the project compares peaceful and protracted conflict settings, respectively, to explain how mobilization for violence affects prospects for poverty alleviation and peace.
In addition to her research on peace and conflict, Professor Marks is committed to creating space for conversations about ethical research praxis and making academia more inclusive. She has convened workshops related to decolonizing the academy and is currently editing a related special issue of the journal Critical African Studies with colleagues at the University of Cape Town.
Her work has been supported by the UK Economic and Social Research Council, UK Department for International Development, British Academy, Carnegie Trust, US Fulbright Program, and Oxford Beit Fund. Her research has been published in leading journals in the field, including African Affairs and Civil Wars, and in peer-reviewed books and edited volumes from Oxford University and Palgrave press. Her dissertation received the Winchester Prize for the best dissertation in Politics at the University of Oxford and was runner-up for the biannual Audrey Richards Prize from the African Studies Association of the UK. She is the co-chair of the editorial board for the journal Critical African Studies, and serves on the editorial committee of Journal of Peace Research and the editorial board of Civil Wars.
Professor Marks holds a DPhil in Politics and MSc in African Studies from the University of Oxford, and a BA in Government and African American Studies from Georgetown University. Prior to joining the Kennedy School, she was a Chancellor’s Fellow and Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, where she directed the master’s program in African Studies and was Director of the University's Global Development Academy. She has previously worked for UN and non-governmental organizations in Ethiopia, France, Sierra Leone, South Africa, the UK, and the US.