Dr. Assata Zerai Ph.D.

Section 1


Associate Professor of Sociology
Associate Professor of Center for African Studies
Center for Global Studies
Professor of Gender and Women's Studies

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Contact Information

Office Hours

  • noon-1pm Tuesdays and Thursdays


Professor Assata Zerai currently holds a position as AssociateDean for Educational Equity programs (July 2014-August 2015), and her portfolio includes serving as chair of the Graduate College Minority Fellowship Board. Most recently in the Grad College, Dean Sarah Lubienski and Zerai have worked with other faculty to propose establishing a University Center of Exemplary Mentoring to the SLOAN Foundation. They were awarded $1M in March to increase numbersof graduate students underrepresented in STEM. Zerai has also worked in the past few years with Professors Benito Marinas, Jeremy Guest, Joanna Shisler and other faculty involved with the former WaterCampus to submit several proposals to NSF and USAID, and to research and create technology for safe water and sanitation in East Africa. As a part of this work, funded by the NSF, they helda Safe Water and Sanitation Summit in Arusha, Tanzania in Jan-Feb2013. 

Assata Zerai has been on the faculty in Sociology since 2002. Herresearch interests have included Africa and the African Diaspora her entire career, starting with her dissertation research over 20 years ago. She will begin service as the Director of the Center for African Studies August 2015.

Specializations / Research Interest(s)

  • Race/Class/Gender; Maternal and Child Health; Sociology of Religion; Health Activism; Health Inequality; Gender Equity and Development Effectiveness; Anti-War Activism

Research Description

  • Assata Zerai has been on the faculty in Sociology since 2002. She will begin service as the Director of the Center for African Studies August 2015. Zerai’s research interests align well with the work of the Center, as she has published work in the area of global health, one of the three thematic foci of the current Title VI grant, and she is currently doing work on environmental sustainability in Africa. In addition, both global health and environmental sustainability are priorities highlighted in the UIUC “Vision of Excellence”report. Zerai’s book Hypermasculinity and State Violence in Zimbabwe: An Africana Feminist Analysis of Maternal and Child Health was published by Africa World Press fall 2014. Her third book, Safe Water, Sanitation and Early Childhood Malnutrition in East Africa: An Africana Feminist Analysis of the lives of Women and Children in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda,  is currently under contract with Rowman and Littlefield. And she is writing Intersectionality in Intentional Communities: The Struggle for Inclusivity in Multicultural U.S. Protestant Congregations.


  • University of Chicago Ph.D. 1993


  • SOC 496/596 Race, Class and Gender
  • SOC 496/596 Maternal and Child Health in Southern Africa
  • SOC 496/596 Health Inequality
  • SOC 480/583 Qualitative Research

LLS Titles & Affiliations

  • Associate Dean, Graduate College



  • Hypermasculinity, State Violence and Family Well-Being in Zimbabwe: An Africana Feminist Analysis of Maternal and Child Health. . . Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2014.
  • Zerai, Assata, and Rae Banks. Dehumanizing Discourse, Law and Policy in America: A Crack Mother’s Nightmare. . London: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2002.

Journal Articles

  • "An Assessment of Afro-Centricism, Color-Blind Ideology, and Intersectionality: Three Models of Internal Christian Congregational Cohesion." Race, Gender and Class (2011):
  • "“Everyone Deserves Services No Matter What”: Defining Success in Harm Reduction Based Substance Abuse Treatment." Substance Use & Misuse (2010):
  • Zerai, Assata. "A black feminist critique of American religious anti-war (dis)engagements ." Works and Days 57/58 29.1 & 2 (2010):
  • "To be Politically Relevant and Tolerant: A Comparative Analysis of Christian Evangelical Internal Discussions of the 2008 Presidential Election." Race, Gender and Class (2010):
  • Zerai, Assata, and Salime Zakia. "A Black Feminist Analysis of Responses to War, Racism, and Repression." Critical Sociology 32.2 -3 (2006): 503-523.
  • Zerai, Assata, and Horace Campbell. "The Black Radical Congress and Black Feminist Organizing." Socialism and Democracy 19.2 (2005): 147-156.
  • Zerai, Assata, and Rae Banks. "African-American Mothers and Substance Abuse: Punishment over Treatment?." Journal of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States 30.3 (2002): 26-29.
  • Zerai, Assata. "Models for Unity Between Scholarship and Grassroots Activism." Critical Sociology 28.1-2 (2002): 201-216.

Research Interests

  • Race, Class, Gender
  • Transnational Studies
  • Research Methods
  • Environmental Sociology
  • Population, Health, and Life Course
  • State, Law, and Society