Leah Zani, Ph.D., (she/ze/they) is a public anthropologist, author, and poet based in Oakland, California. She received her Ph.D. and M.A. in anthropology from the University of California, Irvine. Zani uses creative and literary methods to investigate the social impact of war.
In her role as a human rights scholar, Zani has worked with humanitarian organizations in postwar zones internationally. Currently, she advises the American Anthropological Association (AAA) on global issues of human rights and academic freedom. Zani holds the Human Right Seat on the Advocacy Committee (MPAAC) of the AAA. She is an organizing member of the Rapid Response Network, a group of experts who consult with AAA leadership on pressing political issues. She is proud to be part of the team that manages the AAA's Human Rights Statement as a living document. From 2012-2013, she served as a Research Fellow with the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley in partnership with the Nobel-prize-winning Mines Advisory Group in Laos. Zani has presented her research on the bombing of Laos to the United States Congress.
Zani is the author of Strike Patterns (Redwood Press, 2022), a hybrid memoir of her fieldwork with explosives clearance teams in Laos, and Bomb Children (Duke University Press, 2019), an academic monograph of ethnography and poetry. Two of the poems in Bomb Children won Ethnographic Poetry Prizes from the Society of Humanistic Anthropology. From 2018 to 2021, she served as the Poetry Editor at Anthropology and Humanism.
Zani’s articles, essays, and poems have appeared or will soon appear in Anthropology Quarterly, American Anthropologist, Cultural Anthropology online, Environmental Humanities, IAS Think Pieces, Anthropology and Humanism, Anthropology News, Kenyon Review Online, Stone of Madness, Consequence Magazine, SAPIENS, Somatosphere, Platypus, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Tikkun Magazine among others.
Zani is also a milliner of fine, handmade hats under her label Atelier Zani.