Zenzele Isoke is a black feminist theorist, urban ethnographer, and political storyteller. Drawing from the ideas of black decolonial thinkers, Isoke writes the contemporary history of cities through the political struggles of self-identified black/queer women of the African diaspora. Writing across the fields of geography, political science, and urban anthropology, her scholarship spans several cities in the U.S., Middle-East, and the Caribbean. Her book new project: Unheard Voices at the Bottom of Empire develops a set of “counterpoetic” writing practices to theorize and explore black feminist politics through the mediums of collaborative art-making, breath and meditation, and conventional grassroots organizing in racially segregated urban spaces. She is author of Urban Black Women and the Politics of Resistance (Palgrave 2013). Her writing has been featured in several peer-reviewed journals and anthologies including Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society, Transforming Anthropology, Gender, Place and Culture, among others. She is also the mother of two teenaged black girls, a (slowly) rising poet, and organizer in her own right. She is currently writing a genre blending memoir/self-help book now titled, “Head Above Water: Black Womanhood and the Afterlife of Childhood Sexual Abuse.” Dr. Isoke is Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota.

Educational Background & Specialties
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Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Women's and Gender Studies, Rutgers University
  • M.A./Doctoral Candidate: Political Science, University of Michigan
  • B.A.: Political Science, Clark Atlanta University


  • Urban Ethnography
  • Feminist Theory and Methods
  • Black/African Diaspora Studies
  • Black Cultural Theory
  • Black Femme/Queer of Color Feminism
  • Black Feminist Thought
  • Black Geographies