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Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London

Leo Zeilig has held academic positions at the University of Johannesburg, the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of the Western Cape. He has authored books on student politics in Africa, social movements, the African working class, and Patrice Lumumba, and is also a novelist. He has written extensively on African politics and history, including books on working-class struggle and the development of revolutionary movements and biographies on some of Africa’s most important political thinkers and activists. In different ways, each book examines the growth of decolonization, the failures of independence and the development of radical politics on the continent. In all of his writing Leo presents the continent as being at the centre of globalisation.

Leo is an editor of the Review of African Political Economy—the radical African-studies journal founded by activists and scholars in 1974—and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London where he set-up and coordinates the Ruth First Papers Project.

Leo’s critically acclaimed novel Eddie the Kid was published by Zero Books in 2013. Eddie the Kid is about the life of an activist in London during the anti-war movement in the early 2000s. It was praised in The Guardian: ‘This passionate, sad and well-told book offers a compelling portrait of a flawed young radical.’ Eddie the Kid won the 2014 Creative Work prize at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. Leo's second novel, An Ounce of Practice, looked at the life of an activist who travels to Zimbabwe during Mugabe's rule. His third novel, The World Turned Upside Down, is about to be published.


  • –present
    Senior Visiting Fellow , Birkbeck, University of London