Zena Agha is a Palestinian-Iraqi poet, writer, activist and public speaker from London. She graduated from Warwick University (UK) with First Class Honours in History and Politics in 2015 and was awarded the Outstanding Student Contribution Award. She spent her year abroad studying International Relations at Sciences Po Paris. Zena is currently studying Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University, having been one of nine students awarded the prestigious Kennedy Scholarship.
Zena has worked in local politics as a deputy member of Youth Parliament. At 17, Zena was the youngest ever member of Operation Black Vote’s (OBV) MP Shadowing scheme working in the British Parliament under the mentorship of Fiona MacTaggart, MP for Slough, where she campaigned for a boycott of Israeli settlement foodstuffs. In recognition of this and other voluntary work, Zena was nominated for the London Mayor Young Peace Prize.
Zena founded and coordinated Warwick University’s largest poetry collective ‘Shoot from the Lip’ running poetry slams in Leamington Spa and delivering poetry workshops to young people in the surrounding area. Zena has performed poetry in London, the Midlands and Paris and has amassed thousands of YouTube views. She worked with Operation Black Vote to produce and direct a series of spoken word films and interviews called ‘The Power of Poetry‘ project in 2013.
Zena has delivered two TED talks: the first on Islamic Feminism and the second which addresses the notion of identity, a topic which Zena has explored at length both in her personal life and professionally.
Zena co-founded ‘Infita7’ – a website which examines the Middle East and Arab world with a Palestinian-American writer she met whilst studying in Paris. It attempts to de-emphasise the East/West dichotomy and geo-political divide. Zena speaks Arabic, English and French and is a passionate activist for Palestine.
Experience includes Al-Quds newspaper, the Centre for Social Justice, the Palestinian delegation at UNESCO and Operation Black Vote. In Paris, Zena spent three months working at the Iraqi Embassy and has since freelanced for the The Economist, transforming the ‘World in Figures’ book into a mobile app. Media credits include The Independent, BBC Arabic, the BBC world service and PRI’s the world. Zena is fascinated by the Middle East, its diaspora and its relationship with the West, she holds the Middle East very dear and uses words to unknit its complexity.
Zena currently studies at Harvard University and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.