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 with colleagues at the University of Cape Town edited a related special double issue of the journal Critical African Studies.
Her work has been supported by the UK Economic and Social Research Council, UK Department for International Development, Swedish Folke Bernadotte Academy, British Academy, Carnegie Trust, US Fulbright Program, and Oxford Beit Fund. Her research has been published in leading journals in the field, including Political Geography, 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. She serves on the editorial boards for the journals Critical African Studies and Civil Wars, and on the editorial committee of the Journal of Peace Research.
Dr. 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 (tenured) at the University of Edinburgh, where she directed the masters 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.