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Prof. Dr. Kai Kresse

Dr. Kai Kresse

Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, and Freie Universität Berlin

Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology

Kai Kresse is Vice-Director for Research at ZMO, and Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Freie Universität Berlin. He recently joined ZMO from FU and Columbia University, where he was Associate Professor of African and Swahili Studies in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies (MESAAS). He received his PhD from SOAS, University of London, in Anthropology and African Studies in 2002, after studying Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics (MSc 1997) and Philosophy, African Studies and German Literature at the University of Hamburg (MA 1996). He was Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews, and formerly already a Fellow and Vice-Director for Research at ZMO (2006-2012). In 2005, he was Evans-Pritchard Lecturer at All Souls College, Oxford. He is also a Principal Investigator at the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies (BGSMCS) at FU Berlin.


Field of research: Swahili Muslim Publics and Post-colonial Experience, African intellectual cultur, anthropology of transregional studies

Regional focus: Africa, esp. Eastern Africa and the Swahili Coast; also Southern Africa, transregional connections in the Indian Ocean; Islamicate World

Areas of research: Anthropology and Philosophy; intellectual culture and social practise; regional literatures; local thinkers and intellectuals; religion and society; muslim lifeworlds; postcolonial experiences; anthropology of texts; cultural and social theory; mobility and transregional research


First supervisor of completed PhD projects:

Islam in the Zongo. An Ethnography of Islamic Conceptions, Practices and Imaginaries among Muslims in Asante (Ghana) (Benedikt Pontzen)

An Anthropology of the verbal text and context of Vave - a Bajuni farmer's ritual on the Swahili coast (Jasmin Mahazi)

Learning and Belonging: An Ethnography of Dutch Muslim Women in Kickboxing (Jasmijn Rana)


First supervisor of current PhD projects:

Preachers & Teachers: Knowledge and performance among Salafi, Pentecostal students and lecturers at the universities of Niamey, Niger, and Ibadan, Nigeria (Vincent Favier)

Wrestling and Body Politics: Sports, Economy and Identity in Modern Haryana 1970s-2000s (Santram Antil)

Writing on the Kingdom’s Walls: Narratives, resistance, and acculturation in the MENA region | A comparison between Morocco and Jordan (Soufiane Chinig)

Recent publiations:

2019. Interview with Kai Kresse im Podcast History of Philosophy without any gaps. https://historyofphilosophy.net/anthropology-philosophy-kresse

2018. Swahili Muslim Publics and Postcolonial Experience in Coastal Kenya. Indiana University Press.

2018. ‘Reviving sage philosophy’, Reginald Odour et al. (eds), Exploring the Philosophy ofHenry Odera Oruka. Washington D.C.: Council for Research and Values.

2018.‘Giving voice: discursive agency and intellectual practice on Swahili Islamic radio’, in Ways ofKnowing Muslim Cultures, Festschrift for Gudrun Kraemer, edited by Bettina Graef, Birgit Krawietz and Shirin Amir-Moazami. Leiden: Brill.

In press. ‘Towards more interdisciplinary and collaborative research on philosophicaltraditions in Africa“, in D.A. Masolo (ed), Reason, Culture andHumanism: ThePhilosophy of KwasiWiredu. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

For a full list of Kresse's publications see the his website at the Leibniz-Zentrums Moderner Orient.