Helle V. Goldman


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Ph.D. Dissertation:

A comparative study of Swahili in two rural communities in Pemba, Zanzibar, Tanzania


After earning her degree in 1996, Helle rashly eschewed academia and instead returned to Zanzibar to work as a consultant for a conservation/development project funded by CARE. This entailed, inter alia, figuring out how to mitigate the conflict between farmers and red colobus monkeys and talking to Zanzibaris about the leopards that were thought to be witches’ familiars. During this second stint in Tanzania, Helle met her husband-to-be, a Norwegian working as a bush pilot. In 1997, Helle relocated from just south of the Equator to several hundred kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, joining Jon in his natal town of Tromsø - home of the world’s northernmost university, botanical garden and brewery! A year later, having learned the language and survived her first two-month-long polar night, she accepted a position at the Norwegian Polar Institute, a research institution under the umbrella of the Ministry of the Environment. She is the editor of Polar Research, the NPI’s international, peer-reviewed, multidisciplinary journal. When the demands of her job permit (which isn’t often), she participates in workshops and conferences pertaining to Africa, and she has published journal articles, popular-science magazine pieces and book chapters concerning the Zanzibar leopard and its association with witchcraft, the Zanzibar servaline genet and the island’s other small carnivores, and land tenure in Zanzibar. Helle and Jon have returned briefly to the forests of Zanzibar, camera-trapping never-before-photographed endemic subspecies of nocturnal carnivores. Together with their daughter Zoe (born in 2004), they visit their small patch of untamed land at the southern fringe of Botswana's Okavango Delta whenever they get a chance.