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Katherine Luongo

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Associate Professor of History

Katherine Luongo is a specialist in the anthropological history of Kenya. She studies legal systems in colonial and contemporary Africa, global legal regimes, and human rights. She is particularly interested in the intersections of the supernatural, law, and politics in Africa and in the interactions of African witchcraft and forced migration. She is the author of Witchcraft and Colonial Rule in Kenya, 1900-1955 (Cambridge University Press, 2011).  With Matthew Carotenuto, she is the author of Obama and Kenya: Contested Histories of Politics and Belonging (Ohio University Press, 2016), the first scholarly work to examine the history of Kenya through the experiences of the Obama family. Her current project, Border-Crossing Beliefs: African Witchcraft in the Arena of Asylum, investigates the persistence of witchcraft-driven violence across Africa from the related standpoints of legal anthropology and legal history and migration and human rights studies. It analyzes how witchcraft allegations made by African asylum-seekers have interacted with the protocols of asylum-seeking on the local, national, and global levels over the last two decades and how humanitarian organizations such as the United Nations have engaged with witchcraft-driven violence. This research has been published in African Asylum at a Crossroads: Activism, Expert Testimony, and Refugee Rights, edited by Iris Berger et al. (Ohio University Press, 2015). A second work-in-progress, A History of Human Rights in Kenya, examines the legal history of human rights in Kenya from the 1960s through the 1990s, focusing on illegal detentions, human rights activism, political trials, and lawfare.

  • African Studies Association
  • American Society for Legal History
  • Education

    PhD, 2006, History
    University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

  • Contact

  • Address

    241 Meserve Hall
    360 Huntington Avenue
    Boston, MA 02115

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