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Dr Sara Marzagora joined King’s College London in January 2020. She holds a PhD in Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies from SOAS University of London (2016), after which she co-led a large research project on bottom-up and multilingual approaches to world literature (2016-2019). At SOAS, she convened the MA in Cultural Studies and won runner-up for the 2018 Director’s Teaching Prize for Innovative Teaching. Over the years, she held visiting positions at Northwestern University, Addis Ababa University, Rhodes University, City University of New York, and the ZMO (Centre for Modern Oriental Studies). From 2014 to 2016, she worked as Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford.


Sara teaches undergraduate and postgraduate courses in world literature, critical pedagogy, literature and nationalism, medieval and modern African literatures, and the intellectual history of the Horn of Africa.

Research interests and PhD supervision

Sara is a literary and intellectual historian of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. She is currently completing her book manuscript, provisionally titled The True Meaning of Independence: Ethiopian Intellectuals in a Colonial World (1901-1919). Her research focuses on conceptualisations of the “global”, both in terms of its historical genealogies and as a set of methods to subvert Eurocentric and neocolonial epistemologies. She has written about the potential and limitations of the “transnational turn” in the humanities from the point of view of three interrelated disciplines: intellectual history, literature, and political thought. Sara has published single-authored and jointly-authored articles on world literature theory, proposing methodologies that counter the teleological and modernist biases of canonical accounts of world literature. She has edited a special issue of the Journal of African Cultural Studies charting new disciplinary approaches to the study of literatures in African languages, and co-edited (with Francesca Orsini and Karima Laachir) a special issue of Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East on multilingual literary cultures in the precolonial period. Her work on Ethiopian nationalisms and Ethiopian conceptions of history has been published in the Journal of African History and in Global Intellectual History. She is also a member of the Postcolonial Print Cultures International Research Network.

Sara welcomes PhD proposals in her areas of expertise:

  1. Global intellectual history and world literature
  2. Critical theory and cultural studies
  3. History of print cultures and literary genres
  4. Literatures in African languages, including orature
  5. Ethiopian history, literature, and political thought

For more details, please see her full research profile

Selected Publications 

  • 2019.  “Ethiopian intellectual history and the global: Käbbädä Mikael’s geographies of belonging (1940s-1950s)”. Journal of World Literature, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 107-128.
  • 2019.  (with Ayele Kebede). “Literary networks in the Horn of Africa: Oromo and Amharic intellectual histories”. In Carli Coetzee and Moradewun Adejunmobi (eds.), Handbook of African literature, London: Routledge, pp. 429-442.
  • 2018. (with Francesca Orsini and Karima Laachir). “Significant geographies: In lieu of world literature”. Journal of World Literature, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 290–310.
  • 2017. “History in twentieth-century Ethiopia: The ‘Great Tradition’ and the counter-histories of national failure”. Journal of African History, vol. 58, no. 3, pp. 425-444.
  • 2015.    “African-language literatures and the ‘transnational turn’ in Euro-American humanities”. Journal of African Cultural Studies, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 40-55.