Associate professor, head of centre, Associate professor
Centre for African Studies
Karen Blixens Plads 16
2300 København S
Købmagergade 46, 4.
1150 1150 København K
Primary fields of research
My research addresses interweaving themes of marginality, displacement, belonging, authority and citizenship especially in contexts of crisis. A linked thread through much of my work is the relationship between property, in its broad senses, and the inte-related processes of state-making and citizen-making.
After an initial focus on questions of land and agrarian change (1997-2012) in both Zimbabwe and Mozambique, I worked on developing a new relational approach to displacement (I have called this ‘displacement economies’). I shifted more directly to an urban focus in 2012, exploring particularly the relationship between urban displacement and resettlement, urban property, and urban governance and citizenship, with an empirical grounding in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city. At present, I am especially interested in notions of propertied citizenship, and how this is constituted, experienced, challenged, reshaped, across scales and in the interplay between the structural-material, the institutional-political and the intimate-personal. I am also currently developing a project I call 'Certifications of Citizenship', which focuses on the multiple and interconnected dimensions and scales at and through which identity documents co-produce citizens and authorities.
Current and future lines of research, with broadly collaborative/comparative aims for knowledge production, and always combining attention to both theoretical and empirical implications, include:
- the paradoxes of displacement and resettlement
- transformations of urban local government and the parameters and practices of urban citizenship in times of crisis
- a comparative study of classifications, production, distribution, access, exchange and use of identity documents and their role in the interplay between everyday state-making and citizen-making;
- development of a relational methodology I call ‘biography of a building’ as a means to identify and trace interconnected spatial, temporal, social, political and economic dynamics in the constructon of relationships between authorities and citizens
Recent past research projects with ongoing outputs include:
- Political Economies of Displacement (2006-2010). This culminated in a co-edited special issue of the Journal of Southern African Studies (2010), a single edited book entitled Displacement Economies in Africa: Paradoxes of Crisis and Creativity (Zed Books, 2014), and various journal articles and book chapters related especially to my research on Zimbabwean commercial farmers in Mozambique.
- Urban Property and Citizenship in Developing Societies (2012 – 2016). This has generated ongoing work on urban governance and citizenship through the lens of property and propertied citizenship in Zimbabwe (recent article published in African Studies Review 2017), as well as current collaborative work on a special journal issue on the theme ‘Juxtacities: Producing Authority and Citizenship through Urban Divides'.
- Economic Conditions of Displacement (2012-2016). Complementing the above projects, this has especially focused on the paradoxes of urban displacement and resettlement and what this generates in terms of interweaving relations between changed conditions of property and urban livelihoods and citizenship. This forms the basis for an evolving book project on Property and Personhood.
Current primary areas of teaching on the MA in African Studies at CAS include:
- Politics, Development and Change in Africa (core course)
- Critical Development Planning and Policy Analysis (optional course)
- Introduction to African Studies
- Advanced Research Methods
- Thesis Seminar
- Urban politics and change (including New Urban Life Across the Globe – a cross-Faculty urban summer school listed within the IARU (International Union of Research Universities) summer school portfolio
- Occasional guest lectures especially around topics such as displacement, displacement economies, urban property and citizenship, Zimbabwe, African Studies
MA thesis supervision
Since 2010, I have supervised close to 50 Masters theses on a range of topics. I am especially keen to supervise projects related to: the state/authority, citizenship, identity and belonging, political economies of crisis, displacement and resettlement, property, urban governance and change, critical development processes
I am currently supervising the following students:
- Toke Møldrup Wolff: working on state making in rural Somaliland
- Yingjie Zhao: working on Chinese humanitarian assistance in East Africa
- Saana Hansen (Helsinki University, co-supervision): Project on Exploring the Dynamics of Emplacement and State formation: The Case of Return Migration in Zimbabwe
- Hannah Elliott (dissertation defended February 2018): Anticipating Plots: (Re)Making Property, Futures and Town at the Gateway to Kenya’s ‘New Frontier’