Wolfgang Zeller

Wolfgang Zeller
Mr Wolfgang Zeller
Co-ordinator - African Borderlands Research Network (ABORNE)
African StudiesSchool of Social and Political ScienceUniversity of Edinburgh
4.12 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44 (0)131 651 3134
Research Interests
Political anthropology, political geography, African borderlands, secessionism, border towns, policing, vigilantism, smuggling, transport corridors, Mineral extraction, 'Traditional' Leadership and Authority Structures, Namibia, Zambia, Lozi kingdom, Uganda

Research interest:

Political anthropology, geography and history of African borderlands and boundaries

Policing, vigilantism and smuggling

Border boom towns

Cross-border trade in zones of protracted conflict

Extraction and transnational trade of mineral resources  

Transport corridors and bridges


“Traditional” authority and politics

Namibia (Caprivi); Zambia (Western Province); Lozi kingdom; borderland of Uganda, DR Congo and Sudan

Outline Biography

After completing my B.A. degree in Geography at the WestfÄlische Wilhelms-UniversitÄt in MÜnster I left my native Germany in 1994 on a one-year ERASMUS scholarship at the geography department of the University of Helsinki, Finland. I completed my M.A. degree and wrote my thesis on traditional authority and resource management in Namibia’s Caprivi Region in 1999. I worked at the Embassy of Finland in Windhoek as a research trainee in 1999/2000 and returned to Finland to teach various University courses and chop a lot of firewood. In 2002 I embarked on my doctoral dissertation project on Everyday State Formation in the Borderland of Namibia and Zambia, with financing from the Finnish Academy, the Nordic Africa Institute and the Finnish Graduate School for Development Studies. In 2006 I was a guest PhD researcher at Roskilde University’s Department for International Development Studies. In 2007 I was a founding member of the African Borderlands Research Network (ABORNE). The network was awarded 5-year financing from the European Science Foundation’s Research Networking Programme, and in 2009 I relocated with my wife to Scotland to take up my current position as ABORNE’s co-ordinator.


I have developed and taught under- and postgraduate courses on Development & Security in Africa, Governing Mineral Extraction in Africa, African Borderlands, Research Methods in Africa and Colonial Legacies in post-colonial Africa at the Universities of Helsinki and Edinburgh.


Zeller, Wolfgang, Jordi Tomas and Paul Nugent (forthcoming 2014): Introduction, In Wolfgang Zeller and Jordi Tomas (eds), Secessionism in Africa. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Zeller, Wolfgang and Henning Melber (forthcoming 2014): United in Separation? Lozi Secessionism in Namibia and Zambia, In Wolfgang Zeller and Jordi Tomas (eds), Secessionism in Africa. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Zeller, Wolfgang (2013): Editorial - Special Issue: African Borderlands. Journal of Critical African Studies 5(1). 1-4. 

Zeller, Wolfgang (2013): Get It While You Can – Governance Between Wars in the Uganda-South Sudan Borderland, In Benedikt Korf and Timothy Raeymaekers (eds.), Violence on the Margins. States, Conflict, and Borderlands. 193-218. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Zeller, Wolfgang (2012): Sezession am Sambesi. Afrika Süd 3/2012. 29-31.  

Zeller, Wolfgang (2010): Neither Arbitrary nor Artificial: Lozi Chiefs and the Making of the Namibia-Zambia Borderland. Journal of Borderlands Studies 25(2). 6-21.

Zeller, Wolfgang (2010): "No tenemos tiempo para esa gente". Separatismo lozi y la politica de la Autoridad Tradicional en Zambia, In Jordi Tomas (ed), Secesionismo en Africa. 295-328. Barcelona: Edicions Bellaterra.

Zeller, Wolfgang (2010): Illicit Resource Flows in Sugango – Making War and Profit in the Border Triangle of Sudan, Uganda and Congo-DRC, In Henni Alava (ed), Exploring the Security-Development Nexus. Perspectives from Nepal, Northern Uganda and 'Sugango'. 111-130. Helsinki: Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Zeller, Wolfgang (2009): Danger and Opportunity in Katima Mulilo: A Namibian Border Boomtown at Transnational Crossroads. Journal of Southern African Studies 35(1). 133-154.

Zeller, Wolfgang and Bennett Kangumu Kangumu (2007): ’Caprivi Under Old and New Indirect Rule: Falling off the Map or a 19th Century Dream Come True?’, In H. Melber (ed), Transitions in Namibia – Which Changes for Whom? 190-208. Uppsala: Nordic Africa Institute.

Zeller, Wolfgang (2007): Chiefs, Policing and Vigilantes: “Cleaning Up” the Caprivi Borderland of Namibia. In L. Buur and H. M. Kyed (eds), State Recognition and Democratization in Sub-Saharan Africa: A New Dawn for Traditional Authorities? 79-104. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Zeller, Wolfgang (2007): ”Now we are a Town”: Chiefs, Investors, and the State in Zambia's Western Province. In L. Buur and H. M. Kyed (eds), State Recognition and Democratization in Sub-Saharan Africa: A New Dawn for Traditional Authorities? 209-231. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Zeller, Wolfgang (2000): Interests and socio-economic development in the Caprivi Region - from a historical perspective. Namibia Economic Policy Research Unit Occassional paper 19. Windhoek: NEPRU.

If you are interested in being supervised by Wolfgang Zeller, please see the links below for more information:

PhD In African Studies; MSc (R) African Studies