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.
As a human rights scholar, Zani has worked with humanitarian organizations around the world. Currently, she serves as a Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF) ambassador assisting displaced scholars who are rebuilding their careers in the United States. From 2018 to 2022, she held the Human Rights Seat at the American Anthropological Association (AAA), where she advised leadership on global issues of human rights and academic freedom. In that role, she helped to create the AAA's 2020 Human Rights Statement. From 2012-2015, she conducted fieldwork with explosive clearance teams and victim assistance organizations in Laos, including an assignment with the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley in partnership with the Nobel-prize-winning Mines Advisory Group. In 2013, Zani 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 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.