What brought you to Hood College?
The opportunity to establish an African American studies program and the strong sense of community I felt on the campus.
What do you value most about your relationship with students?
The chance it gives me to understand the world through their eyes and experiences, and to share with them my knowledge and training. Also, our time together in the class is a very precious thing: for three hours a week each class is a learning community devoted to understanding and to changing the world. Sometimes it is pure magic.
Why is teaching your dream job?
It is never boring! Teaching allows me to explore new subjects and new perspectives with new groups of students every year. There is always something new to read and understand.
If you were to consider another career, what would you consider and why?
I would want to work for a human rights nonprofit organization. Such organizations are on the front line of the struggle to increase human rights at home and abroad, and to be able to participate in that effort would be a privilege.
Describe your approach to teaching?
My approach is very interactive and very discussion-based. I sometimes give a formal lecture, especially at the beginning of a new topic. Because my area is political theory, much of the discussions in my class are based on analyzing texts, so one of the things we do in class is to read and analyze texts very carefully.
What is/are your most memorable moment/s at Hood?
There are so many! One of them was working with a student group to increase the voter turnout in the last presidential election, and in one event, more than 50 students, faculty and staff participated in our workshop and were made voting registrars in the state of Maryland.
Describe your academic interests and research?
My area is political theory and I concentrate on 20th century U.S. civil rights and race theory. I also have done a lot of work on the intersection of politics and popular culture, focusing on science fiction. More recently I have focused on African political theory.
When you aren’t working, what are you doing in your spare time?
I am a gym rat who likes to walk and to cook. There might be a contradiction in those hobbies!
Name three books that you would recommend everyone read:
That is such a tough question! Only three?
I love reading autobiographies, and Equiano’s autobiography, “The Interesting Narrative” is among one of the outstanding autobiographies about maritime slavery and the Middle Passage.
Another important autobiography is Barack Obama’s “Dreams,” which I think will continue to be important long after he steps aside as president.
My third choice would be Robert Newman’s “The Fountain at the Center of the World,” which is a lyrical but critical treatment of globalization.
If you would like to contact Professor Zaki, you can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.