Serah Shani, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Anthropology
(805) 565-6844

Office Location

Deane Hall 208

Office Available

Only by appointment. 


Cultural anthropology, anthropology of education, transnational parenting and childhood
globalization, immigration and transnationalism, elite formation, and urban ethnography.

Research Interests

Globalization, immigration, transnational movements, education, identity formations, sociocultural economic adaptation and mobility, influence of market economies on parenting strategies among marginalized and indigenous groups, and elite formation among indigenous groups in East Africa.


Dr. Shani currently conducts research on: elite formation in Africa, contemporary parenting practices among indigenous populations, also in Africa, and, African immigrants in the United States. The common thread across these three research projects is examining how globalization and transnationalism create space for the acquisition and utilization of global resources beyond the traditional reproduction of family wealth and ideas within nation-states. For the immigration project, she published her first book: "African Immigrant Families in the United States: Transnational Lives and Schooling" in 2018. Dr. Shani is currently working on her second book manuscript entitled: Configurations and Consolidation of Indigenous Elites in Africa: The Case of Maasai, Kenya. Dr. Shani has, also recently, received a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation to continue conducting research among the Maasai indigenous group in Kenya. The title of her new research project is The Cultural Evolution of the Conscience, Virtues, Character Development, and Human Progress. Dr. Shani graduated from Columbia University with a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology and speaks five languages; English, Swahili, Maasai, Kikuyu, and Kisii. These five languages are spoken in Africa and the African Diaspora. She also has extensive experience teaching highly diverse students in a wide variety of educational settings; both nationally and internationally.