Dr Zoe Groves

Lecturer in Modern Global, Colonial and Postcolonial History

School/Department: History, Politics and International Relations, School of



My research examines the social and cultural history of southern Africa, especially the themes of migration, urbanisation and popular culture in Malawi, Zimbabwe, and South Africa in the 19th and 20th centuries. More broadly, I am interested in global histories of migration, citizenship, and diasporas in the colonial and postcolonial world. I joined the University of Leicester in August 2017. Prior to that, I was a postdoctoral research fellow at Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of the Witwatersrand (2011-13) and a Lecturer in African History at the University of Cambridge (2013-2017). I received my MRes (2006) and PhD (2011) from Keele University, where I also studied as an undergraduate (BA Dual Hons. International History and Philosophy, 2004). I previously held affiliations with the History Department at the Chancellor College, University of Malawi, and the History Department at the University of Zimbabwe. I am currently a Research Associate at WISER, University of the Witwatersrand.



My current research examines the transnational history of dance and masquerade in Malawi and the wider Zambezi region. The project explores how masquerade performances have transformed and undergone continuous reinvention, from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, moving through migrant networks to become established in urban centres, mining towns and on farms in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Zambia. 
My research has previously been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.


Zoe Groves, Malawian Migration to Zimbabwe, c.1900-1965: Tracing Machona (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020).

Zoe Groves, 'Zimbabwe is my home': Citizenship and Belonging for 'Malawians' in Post-Independence Urban Zimbabwe', South African Historical Journal, Vol.72, 2 (2020), pp.299-320.
Zoe Groves and Jessica Johnson (eds), Special Issue: 'Malawi: Enduring Concerns and New Directions', Journal of Southern African Studies, 46, 2 (2020). 
Zoe Groves, 'Transnational Networks and Regional Solidarity: the Case of the Central African Federation', African Studies (2013), 72, 2, pp.155-175.
Zoe Groves, 'Urban Migrants, Religious Networks: Malawians in Colonial Zimbabwe, 1920 -1970', Journal of Southern African Studies (2012), 38, 3, pp.491-511. 
Zoe Groves, 'We must think in terms of a Central African Nation': Collaboration between African Nationalisms, c.1944-1963', in Kings M. Phiri, John K. McCracken & Wapulumuka O. Mulwafu (eds) Malawi in Crisis: The 1959/60 Nyasaland State of Emergency and its Legacy (Zomba: Kachere Books, 2012).
Zoe Groves, 'People and Places: Land, migration and political culture in Zimbabwe', Journal of Modern African Studies (2012), 50, 2: 339-356.


I am happy to supervise research on any area of central/southern African history in the 19th and 20th centuries, especially related to youth, cities, and popular culture, and topics related to migration, citizenship and disaporas in the colonial and postcolonial world.


I teach a special subject on the history of southern Africa in the twentieth century (Cultures of Struggle and Liberation HS3774) and a third year option module on Diasporas and Migration in the Modern World (HS3694). I co-teach a second year module on urban history with a focus on Johannesburg and Lagos (Global Cities HS2238) and convene our schools placement module, History in the Classroom HS2360. 
I also contribute to the following modules: 
HS1002 The Shock of the Modern
HS1012 Global History: Connections and Cultures in a Changing World
HS2400/2401: Perceiving the Past 
HS2500 Becoming a Historical Researcher
HS3510 Dissertations

At Masters level, I co-teach a Global History module (HS7310: Comparative and connected approaches) with sessions on settler colonialism, the global Cold War and southern African Liberation Struggles.  

Press and media

Migration and citizenship in Africa
African urban history
History of Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa


Member of the Historical Association Leicester branch steering committee
Member of the editorial board of the Journal of Southern African Studies
External Examiner for the University of Edinburgh (African Studies)
Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
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