Dr Iain Walker

Research interests

Following master's research on the Chagossians in Mauritius, Iain Walker carried out doctoral research on the Comorian island of Ngazidja on themes of mimesis, custom and belonging; since then he has worked on movements of people between the Comoros, Zanzibar and Hadramawt as well as between these regions and Saudi Arabia and the UAE. His work on identity among communities of Hadrami origin in East Africa, and on the Comorian diaspora, has been funded by an ARC Postdoctoral Fellowship, and an ESRC Mid-Career Fellowship, and by the Leverhulme-funded Oxford Diasporas Programme.

His most recent research project, 'Converging cultures: the Hadrami diaspora in the Indian Ocean' was concerned with social networks among Hadramis in Eastern Africa and the Arabian peninsula. His research interests have remained focused on identity and ethnicity, expanding to include migration, globalisation and notions of home and belonging, as well as age systems.

Iain has an MA in Social Anthropology from the University of Edinburgh and a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Sydney. He has held positions at the University of New South Wales, Macquarie University, SOAS, and was a member of the School of Anthropology from 2008 to 2014. He is currently senior researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology.

He is co-coordinator of the AEGIS Collaborative Research Group Africa in the Indian Ocean, committee member and webmaster of the SwahiliWeb resource site, and moderator of the Indian Ocean Studies mailing list. 

Selected Publications

Forthcoming (2015) “Hadrami identities in Saudi Arabia,” in Noel Brehony & Saud al Sarhan, eds, Rebuilding Yemen: political, economic and social challenges. Berlin: Gerlach Books.

Forthcoming (2015), with Marie-Aude Fouéré & Nadine Beckmann “Un explorateur allemand à Ngazidja en 1864,” Etudes Océan Indien, 53.

2014 “Identity and citizenship among the Comorians of Zanzibar, 1886-1963,” in Abdul Sheriff & Engseng Ho, eds, The Indian Ocean: Oceanic Connections & Creation of New Societies. London: Hurst & Co.

2014 “Comoro Islands,” in Thomas Spear, ed., Oxford Bibliographies in African Studies. New York: Oxford University Press (DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199846733-0148).

2012 “Comorians and Hadramis in the western Indian Ocean: diasporic practices in a comparative context,” Social Dynamics, 38 (3): 435-453.

2012 “Is social capital fungible? The rise and fall of the Sanduk microcredit project in Ngazidja,” Journal of Eastern African Studies, 6 (4): 709-726.

2012 “Ntsambu, the foul smell of home: Food, commensality and identity in the Comoros and in the diaspora” Food and Foodways, 20 (3-4): 187-210.

2012 “Marrying at Home, Marrying Away: Customary Marriages and Legal Marriages in Ngazidja and in the Diaspora.” In K. Charsley, ed., Transnational Marriage: new perspectives from Europe and beyond. London: Routledge.

2011 “Yemen: The Resurgent Secessionism in the South.” In A. Pavković & P. Radan, eds, Ashgate Research Companion to Secession. Farnham: Ashgate.

2011 with Moussa Said Ahmed, “Two fisherman’s songs from Ngazidja, Comoro Islands.” Wasafiri, 26 (2): 59-62.

2011 “Hybridity, Belonging, and Mobilities: the intercontinental peripatetics of a transnational community,” Population, Space and Place, 17 (2): 167-178.

2010 Becoming the Other, Being Oneself: Constructing Identities in a Connected World. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

2008 “Hadramis, Shimalis and Muwalladin: negotiating cosmopolitan identities between the Swahili coast and southern Yemen.” Journal of Eastern African Studies, 2 (1): 44-59.

2007 “What came first, the nation or the state? Political process in the Comoro Islands.” Africa, 77 (4): 582-605.

2007 “The Comorians, the British, the French and the Arabs: struggle for status in the Protectorate of Zanzibar.” ZIFF Journal, 4: 89-98.

2005 “Mimetic Structuration, or, easy steps to building an acceptable identity.”  History and Anthropology, 16, 2: 187-210.




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