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Zenzele Isoke

University Affiliations

  • Liberal Arts


Zenzele studies black women’s politics and activism in urban spaces. She teaches courses in feminist theory and methods, women and race in the U.S. gender and popular culture, and black feminist geographies. Her first book entitled, Urban Black Women and the Politics of Resistance will be released by Palgrave-MacMillian Press in 2012. Using intersectionality as a central analytic tool and the stories that contemporary Black women activists tell about “politics“ as her primary evidence, her book examines both the practical and discursive roles that black women activists play in hip hop politics, black queer politics, and other contemporary social movements in the U.S. She has two new articles forthcoming in Transforming Anthropology: A Journal of Black Anthropology and Gender, Place, and Culture. She is has recently began a new research project on Afro-Arab women and hip hop culture in the Dubai, UAE.


  • U.S. Black Women's Politics and Activism
  • Black Feminist Thought
  • Urban Studies
  • Urban Ethnography
  • Feminist Geography
  • Feminist Theory and Methods

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Women's and Gender Studies, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, 2007.
  • M.A.: Political Science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2002.
  • B.A.: Political Science, Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, GA, 1997.


  • Urban Black Women and the Politics of Resistance. Isoke, Zenzele, Palgrave-MacMillan, Author, 2012.
  • Can't I Be Seen? Can't I Be Heard: Black Women Queering Politics in Newark, NJ: Isoke, Zenzele, Routledge Press, Gender, Place and Culture, August 2013.
  • Women, Hip Hop , and Cultural Resistance in Dubai: Isoke, Zenzele, Souls: Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society, Vol. 15, Issue 4 .
  • 'Why Am I Black?' Gender Hip Hop and Translocal Solidarity in Dubai: Isoke, Zenzele, Springer Press, Intercultural Communications with Arabs, 2014.
  • The Politics of Homemaking: Isoke, Zenzele, Wiley Press, Transforming Anthropology, Volume 19, Issue 2 , 2011.
  • "Lighting the Fire: Hip Hop Feminism in a Midwestern Classroom": Isoke, Zenzele, Ruth Nicole Brown, Chamara Jewel Kwakye, Peter Lang, Wish to Live: The Hip Hop Feminism Pedagogy Reader, 20, 2012.

Research Activities

  • Black Women in the City: Space Place and the New Politics of Resistance: Qualitative Study of Black Women's Political Activism in Newark. Currently working on producing a documentary featuring interviews by African American female activists involved in hip hop, black queer activism, and antipoverty/racial justice community organizing in Newark, New Jersey., September 2009 - Spring 2012
  • Unheard Voices at the Bottom of Empire: Black Feminist Sites of Translocal Resistance: This is a multi-site projects that seeks to identify and tells new histories of black women's resistance using a critical black diasporic framework. I'm currently seeking students, faculty and community members interested in building relationships between diverse U.S. Black people in the Twin Cities. This includes women of Afro-Carribean, Afro-Arab, Ethiopan, and African American descent., September 2011 - Ongoing

Outreach Activities

  • Associate Editor: National Women's Studies Association Journal, January 2009 - Current
  • Member: University Women of Color Council, June 2009
  • Advisory Board Member: Women's Student Activism Collective, August 2011
  • Faculty Advisor: SHE Women's Empowerment Group, October 2011


  • Future of Minorities Fellow, Melon Fellow, Spring/Summer 2007
  • Governor's Executive Fellow, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Fall 2004 - Spring 2005
  • Rutger's Graduate School Excellence Fellowship, Fall 2003 - Spring 2007
  • Rackham Merit Fellowship--University of Michigan, Fall of 1998 - Spring 2002
  • Graduate Merit Award, Executive Women of New Jersey, 2005
  • Imagine Funds Grants 2009 and 2010
  • President’s Faculty Multicultural Research Award, Office of Equity and Diversity, University of Minnesota, 2011 - 2012

Courses Taught

  • Contemporary Black Feminisms
  • Engaging Justice GWSS 1005
  • Black Feminist Geographies
  • Women of Color and Public Policy
  • Space, Identity, and Agency in the Black Diaspora
  • Sex, Politics, and Hip Hop
  • Gender, Race, Class and Nation in Women's Lives
  • Feminist Theory and Methods II
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