Jun.-Prof. Dr. Franziska Fay

Juniorprofessor for Anthropology with a Focus on Political Anthropology
Research interests

  • politics
  • gender
  • violence
  • protection and (self-)defense
  • decolonisation
  • witnessing and refusal
  • childhood and child protection
  • international development
  • (Swahili) diaspora and belonging
  • translation
  • political anthropology, feminist anthropology, public anthropology, linguistic anthropology, visual and arts-based ethnography, Indian Ocean Studies

Research areas
East Africa (Zanzibar, Tanzania, Kenya), Arabian Peninsula (Oman)

Personal Website: www.franziskafay.com

AEGIS Contact
Oman Research Network (RMU)


Short profile

Franziska Fay is Assistant Professor of Political Anthropology at the Institute of Anthropology and African Studies (ifeas) at Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz. For her ethnographic research on child protection in Zanzibar she received a PhD in Social Anthropology from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. Between 2017 and 2021 she held a Postdoc position at the Cluster of Excellence Normative Orders at Goethe University Frankfurt and a Research Fellowship at Leibniz Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) in Berlin.

Her central research areas span a) local formations of feminist praxis, b) the construction of childhood in contexts of international development, and c) the socio-political relationship between gender and linguistic belonging in Eastern Africa (Zanzibar, Tanzania mainland, Kenya) and the Arabian Peninsula (Oman, UAE). The theoretical fields of Political Anthropology, Feminist Theory, and Western Indian Ocean Studies frame these endeavours.

In her current research Fay engages questions of mutability and interruptions, liberation, protection and distribution in the field of feminist political activism in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

At Mainz she teaches, among other things, Political Anthropology, African Feminisms, Decolonizing Anthropology, Writing Ethnography, Ethnography of East Africa and Contemporary Theory in Anthropology.

Recent Publications (Selection)

(2023) The Weight of Witnessing: Commitment, Expectation, and Responsibility in Child Protection Ethnography. Public Anthropologist 5: 232-254.

(2023) The Politics of Skeletons and Ruination: Living (with) Debris of the Two Fishes Hotel in Diani Beach, Kenya. Journal of Eastern African Studies. https://doi.org/10.1080/17531055.2023.2231789

(2023) (with Mario Schmidt) (Counter)public Contestations: Feminist Theorizing for Anthropological Ethics, boasblogs.org, 5 July 2023.

(2023) Comment on: Scheidecker, Gabriel, “Parents, Caregivers, and Peers. Patterns of Complementarity in the Social World of Children in Rural Madagascar,Current Anthropology, Vol 64(3), June 2023.

(2022) Ordinary Childhoods and Everyday Islamic Practices of Protection and Care in Zanzibar. Journal of the British Academy 10(s2): 175-197 [Special Issue: Searching for the Everyday in African Childhoods, Ed. By Afua Twum-Danso Imoh, Peace Mamle Tetteh and Georgina Yaa Oduro] https://doi.org/10.5871/jba/010s2.175

(2022) "Kuishi Ughaibuni": Emplaced Absence, the Zanzibar Diaspora Policy, and Young Men's Experiences of Belonging Between Zanzibar and Oman. Journal of Indian Ocean World Studies 6(1): 10-37 [Special Issue: Plurilocal Communities in the Indian Ocean World, Ed. by Walker, Iain and Martin Slama)

(2022) Rearing Like the State: Belonging, Child Rearing, and Greetings in Zanzibar. In Iain Walker & Marie-Aude Fouéré, eds, Across the Waves: Strategies of belonging in Indian Ocean Island Societies. Leiden: Brill, 75-95. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004510104_005

(2021) Ukatazaji wa Watoto na Ulinzi wa Mtoto. / Children’s Refusal and Child Protection. Reimagining Childhood Studies Blog, 23 June 2021.

(2021) Disputing Discipline. Child Protection, Punishment and Piety in Zanzibar Schools. Rutgers Series in Childhood Studies. New Brunswick/New Jersey/London: Rutgers University Press.

(2019) Looking at and Seeing Beyond Young People’s Photographs of ‘Child Protection’ in Zanzibar. On Children as Diagnosticians of their own Well-being. MAT – Medicine Anthropology Theory Vol 6(4): 80-100. http://doi.org/10.17157/mat.6.4.704

(2019) Decolonizing the Child Protection Apparatus: Revisiting Child Rights Governance in Zanzibar. Childhood 26(3): 321-336 [Special Issue: Child Rights Governance] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0907568219847256

Recent Media (Selection)

(2023) Interview with Franziska Fay about her book Disputing Discipline: Child Protection, Punishment and Piety in Zanzibar Schools, The Childhood, Law & Policy Network (CLPN), June 2023.

(2022) Disziplinierte Empathie als wichtiges Werkzeug in hochpolitischen Zeiten/ Disciplined empathy as an important tool in highly political times (German/ English). JGU Magazin, 10.03.2022.

(2022) “Kuishi Ughaibuni” & “To Everyone Who Told Zanzis That They Are Not Omani”, The Indian Ocean World Podcast | Indian Ocean World Center, McGill University, (in conversation with Philip Gooding), October 2022

(2022) #23 Über die Spuren der Kolonialzeit: Ein Einblick in die Politikethnologie, Podcast "Denkanstoß Demokratie" | Landeszentrale Politische Bildung Rheinland-Pfalz, (in conversation with Benjamin Meinig), August 2022

(2021) “Young Omani Swahili-speakers and the Zanzibar Diaspora”, Podcast Episode with the Anglo-Omani Society (in conversation with Dina Macki), London, UK, 15.02.2021.