Nathalie Arnold

Associate Professor of Anthropology, Literary Arts and African Studies
Hampshire College Professor Nell Arnold
Contact Nathalie

Mail Code CSI
Nathalie Arnold
Franklin Patterson Hall 226
413.559.5308

Nathalie (Nell) Arnold is an anthropologist, translator, and fiction writer whose work is focused on East Africa.

She received her Ph.D. in socio-cultural anthropology and her M.F.A. in creative writing from Indiana University, and her B.A. in African studies from Bryn Mawr College.

Nathalie’s ethnographic research is focused on the historical imagination, the occult and the imaginal, and discourses of hardship and wellbeing in Pemba, Zanzibar. She has published articles about the politics of identity, the occult and politics, and collective memories of the 20th century in Pemba. She is currently working on the book "No Sorcery Anymore: power, agency and the social imagination in Pemba, Zanzibar," and in 2018 will begin a new project on spirit biographies.

Publishing fiction under the name N.S. Koenings, she is focused on global peripheries, where her diverse, multi-lingual characters search for safety and love in contexts shaped by colonialism and Empire. Her first novel, The Blue Taxi, and her short story collection, Theft, were published by Little Brown and Company in 2006 and 2009. Her short stories have appeared in Story Quarterly, and Glimmer Train, and she has forthcoming work in The Enkare Review.

Her translations of Swahili literature have appeared in The New Orleans Review, Asymptote, and Words Without Borders.

In anthropology, her current interests include Islam, love and gender, spirits and dreams, social geography, and histories of violence. In literature, her commitments are to African literature, literature in translation, women’s experimental fiction, and all aspects of craft. In all her teaching, Nathalie is committed to the collective production of knowledge, deep listening, and reflexivity.

Recent and Upcoming Courses

  • Across the world, humans have viewed animals as: ancestors, teachers, friends, members of the family, meat, workers, pests, and threats. Everywhere, the 'human' is defined in relation to the 'animal.' Yet this relation is construed in diverse and contradictory ways. Ideas about what it means to 'be (an) animal' have long structured visions of belonging and otherness, as well as violence, racism, and oppression. As animals vanish or recede from human settlements, their images proliferate around us. Drawing on cultural, legal, and gender studies, multispecies ethnography, literature, and history, this seminar looks at varied human relationships to animals, animals' diverse roles in society, history, and the arts, and how ideas about 'animals' shape our sense of 'being human.' While we will write and research regularly, major assignments include: a personal essay, a report on a site observation, and an independent project in a form of students' choice. Keywords: animals, animal studies, multispecies, posthumanism, anthropology.

  • While climate change affects all life on the planet, historically vulnerable and marginalized communities across the world are consistently at the greatest risk of devastation. As calls for climate justice multiply, the urgency of writing, speaking, and creating wisely about climate is clear. Grounded in ethnography about diverse communities' experiences and responses to climate change while drawing on film, literature, and the visual arts, this course asks: How do marginalized communities across the world respond to climate inequalities? What is the relationship between capitalism and the climate? How does thinking the Anthropocene, Capitalocene, or the posthuman affect our views of planetary issues? How does 'climate denial' emerge, and what do 'climate justice' and resilience look like? While we will regularly practice writing and research, major assignments include: a family or community weather history and an independent project in a form of students' choice.