Bettina Ng'weno

Dr. Ng'weno

Position Title
Associate Professor

2209 Hart Hall

I am from Nairobi, Kenya. Trained as an anthropologist I work on issues of space, property, social justice, citizenship, cities, states, race and ethnicity within Latin America, Africa and the Indian Ocean region. I received my Ph.D. in Anthropology from Johns Hopkins University and a Masters degree also in Anthropology from Stanford University and have a Bachelors degree in Agricultural Science and Management from the University of California, Davis. 

I am an associate professor in African American and African Studies at the University of California, Davis, and the chair of the Designated Emphasis. I was a co-director of the Mellon Research Initiative Reimagining Indian Ocean Worlds at the University of California Davis.

I continue to work closely with a diverse group of students and scholars brought together by our Mellon Research initiative on issues concerning Indian Ocean worlds including questions of place making, oceanographic epistemologies, China’s Belt and Road initiative and the ideas that travel with material objects. The process of reimagining Indian Ocean worlds forces us to think of new approaches and methodologies, as well as new perspectives and stories of being which are highlighted in our 2020 edited volume Reimagining Indian Ocean Worlds (Routledge). 

In 2020 I also published the edited volume, Developing Global Leaders: Case Studies from Africa, that examines the experience and struggles of African business, academic, and government leaders in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Tanzania. It shows generational and gender divides in conceptualizing leadership as well as the dynamism of the African cultural, political and economic context magnified by rapid demographic change.

In addition, in collaboration with a scholar from the University of Nairobi, Leonard O. Aloo, I am working on a collection of essays regarding historical, political and moral aspects to the acquisition of citizenship in Kenya.

At the moment, I am finishing a book on Nairobi, Growing Old in a New City, that focuses on long-term residents, and the time and space of the city. Working from personal, familial, ethnographic and archival history and experience of Nairobi, in both my academic writing and creative film project, Last Dance in Kaloleni ( ) I bring to life a Nairobi rarely talked about centered on the railways, the dreams and aspirations of long-term residents, music and dance, and the complicated spatial and temporal dynamics of the city.


Recent publications:

Reimagining Indian Ocean Worlds ( )

Developing Global Leaders: Insights from African Case Studies ( ). 



Image result for ngweno turf wars testBettina's Book


Bettina RIOW


Education and Degree(s)
  • Ph.D. Cultural Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University
Research Interests & Expertise
  • Teaching: Research methodology; Race and Ethnicity in Latin America; Black intellectuals; Diaspora and new Black identities; African descent communities in the Caribbean and Latin America; African descent communities of Asia
  • Research: Cultural anthropology; Black Geographies; Space; Citizenship; Temporality; Property; Race and Ethnicity; Rural societies; Cities; Social Justice; Law; Latin America, Africa and the Indian Ocean region