Leah Zani, Ph.D., (she/ze/they) is an anthropologist, author, and poet based in Oakland, California. Zani researches and writes on the social impact of war. She has conducted human rights research with academic, museum, and development organizations nationally and internationally. Previously, she served as a researcher with the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley in partnership with the Nobel prize-winning Mines Advisory Group in Laos. She has presented her research on the bombing of Laos to the United States Congress.
Zani has written two books on her fieldwork in Laos: Bomb Children: Life in the Former Battlefields of Laos (Duke University Press, 2019) and Strike Patterns: Notes from Postwar Laos (Rewood Press, 2022). Both are works of creative scholarship drawn from fieldwork with explosives clearance operators, humanitarian organizations, and bombed communities. Two of the poems in Bomb Children won poetry prizes from the Society of Humanistic Anthropology.
Zani's articles, essays, and poems have appeared or will soon appear in Anthropology Quarterly, American Anthropologist, Cultural Anthropology online, Environmental Humanities, Anthropology and Humanism, IAS Think Pieces, Anthropology News, Kenyon Review Online, Stone of Madness, Consequence Magazine, Somatosphere, Platypus, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Tikkun Magazine among others. From 2018 to 2021, she served as the Poetry Editor at Anthropology and Humanism.
Zani holds the Human Right Seat on the Advocacy Committee (MPAAC) of the American Anthropological Association. 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.
Zani received her Ph.D. and M.A. in anthropology from the University of California, Irvine in 2017.
Zani is also a milliner of fine, handmade hats under her label Atelier Zani.