Kai Kresse is an anthropologist and philosopher with an area specialization in East Africa and the Swahili coast. He received his PhD in Anthropology and African Studies from SOAS (2002) and a Master’s degree in Social Anthropology from LSE (1997), both University of London, and a Magister degree in Philosophy from the University of Hamburg (1996). He has held appointments as Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews (2002-2009), Research Fellow and Vice Director for Research at the Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) in Berlin (www.zmo.de) (2006-2012), and has affiliations to the Berlin Graduate School for the Study of Muslim Cultures and Societies and the Department of Anthropology, at the Free University Berlin. In 2005, he was Evans-Pritchard Lecturer at All Souls College, Oxford.
His research interests include: African philosophy and intellectual history; social theory; intercultural philosophy; the study of texts in social contexts; Swahili genres of poetry and rhetoric; Islam and Muslim debates in East Africa; African literature; and social connectivity across the Western Indian Ocean. His interdisciplinary research engages with the study of history, literature and religion.
His publications include the monograph 'Philosophising in Mombasa: Knowledge, Islam and intellectual practice on the Swahili coast' (International African Institute and Edinburgh University Press 2007) which was shortlisted for the Herskovits Prize, and the (co)edited volumes 'Struggling with History: Islam and Cosmopolitanism in the Western Indian Ocean' (with Edward Simpson; Columbia University Press 2008); 'Knowledge in Practice: Expertise and the Transmission of Knowledge in Africa' (with Trevor Marchand; Edinburgh University Press 2009); 'Reading Mudimbe' (edited, 2005); 'Symbolisches Flanieren: Kulturphilosophische Streifzüge' (with Roger Behrens and Ronnie Peplow; Wehrhahn 2001); and 'Sagacious Reasoning: Henry Odera Oruka in Memoriam' (with Anke Graness; Peter Lang 1997; reprinted in Nairobi, 1999). His articles appeared in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute; Africa: Journal of the International African Institute; Wasafiri; the Journal of Religion in Africa, among other journal and edited collections.
He is a member of the editorial collective for the journal Comparative Studies in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (Duke University Press), an editorial advisory board member of the journals Africa (Cambridge University Press), Islamic Africa (Northwestern University Press), Polylog: Zeitschrift fuer Interkulturelles Philosophieren (Vienna), and for the book series Welten der Philosophie (Verlag Karl Alber); he has also been a co-editor of polylog, an online journal for intercultural philosophy (www.polylog.org).