Personal profile

Personal information

I specialise in the anthropology of intimacy, violence and law and have been conducting ethnographic research in Sierra Leone since 2011 and in Germany since 2018. Through combining empirical research with conceptual synthesis, I study how people negotiate the space to live their most intimate needs on various levels of social and legal organisation. I am particularly interested in the friction between care and control, between rights, protections and their practical realisation that arise from the divide between private and public spheres, both through the politico-legal separation between home/house and street, and through conflicting discourses regarding which areas of life states may regulate and in what way. I am interested in inventive contractualism and creative syncretism and examine what laws ‘do’ and how they interact with how people govern their lives in diverse contexts.


VU- One Minute Researcher Summary

On the privacy of houseless people


My long-term engagement with Sierra Leone focuses on three core areas:

  1. an ethnographic critique of the relationship between love and violence
  2. the question how interpersonal violence should be mediated and sanctioned (and by whom)
  3. work with those who have been convicted and who are now serving time in prison

In my research on Germany I investigate:

  1. how contemporary welfare states tacitly tie basic rights—e.g. parenthood, family life, protection—to tenancy-protected housing and what this means for those without housing. How can unhoused people live intimacy and privacy? How do they engage with the state and its institutions and what alternative mechanisms they develop if official routes fail or harm them?
  2. In an upcoming research I focus on empoversished people who seek imprisonment as a last resort to seek support and to (temporarily) escape extended carceral conditions.

A third cornerstone of my research turns inward

and looks at our discipline, at the nexus between ethnographic unpredictability and institutional demands and at how we conduct and navigate research, academia and the university. I have been writing about various aspects of what we could call the ugly underbelly of anthropological work (ontological insecurity, loneliness, violence, abuse). I ask what anthropologists and institutions can and should do to challenge and deconstruct violent structures, prevent harm where possible and to offer support while taking seriously the unpredictability of human interactions? 


I have taught social anthropology at both graduate and undergraduate levels at the University of Oxford, the University of Vienna and Leipzig University. My teaching experience spans social analysis and interpretation, love and intimacy, violence, law and rights, confinement and imprisonment, research methodology, ethics, West Africa and Europe. 

In the Academic Year 2021/2022 I teach on the following courses:

  • Mobility, Diversity & Equality ("TOM2")
  • Masterthesis Seminar
  • SS4S: Diversity 1
  • Ethnograpic Research Methodology
  • Research Lab Anthropology
  • Urban Challenges (honours course)

I also run the academic citizenship teaching innovation and am the programme coordinator of the Anthropology Honors Program

Current PhD students:

Anastasiia Omelianiuk (supervised with Prof. Mattijs van de Port)

Ketema Degefa (supervised with Dr. Freek Colombijn and Dr. Kedir Teji Roba) 

Robbert Dillema (supervised with Dr. Dimitris Dalakoglou)

Alexandra Greene (supervised with Dr. Halleh Ghorashi and Dr. Tara Fiorito)

I am open to supervising PhD students.


  • 2021 Departmental Research Fund, Social and Cultural Anthropology to do Fieldwork in Germany (VU)
  • 2021 Educational Innovation Grant to roll out a teaching innovation on academic citizenship throughout the BA and Ma programs in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the VU (FSW)
  • 2021 Travel Grant, Distinguished Women Scientists Fund, Dutch Network Women Professors (LNVH). 
  • 2019 Shortlisted for a Minerva Fast Track Fellowship. Max Planck Society.
  • 2017 Godfrey Lienhardt Small Research Travel Grants in the field of social anthropology for Sub-Saharan Africa. School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, Oxford University.
  • 2017  MCR Travel grant, St. Peter’s College, Oxford University. Grant to undertake ethnographic research in Sierra Leone.
  • 2016-2018 Doctoral Scholarship of the German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes) DPhil funding given to 0.5 percent of students who are German or study in Germany after examination and interviews.


Prizes and Awards

  • 2023 Amsterdam Open Science Community Award 
  • 2022 Winner of the annual prize for best social science researcher at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
  • 2022 Nomination by LVNH, the Dutch Network of Women Professors for membership of De Jonge Akademie KNAW. 
  • 2018 Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI)/Sutasoma Award for outstanding merit of research about to come to conclusion.
  • 2017 Social Anthropology and Museum Ethnography (SAME) Prize. Award for academic merit of the DPhil research, progress, and excellence of prior academic record and references. School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford.
  • 2016 Aylmer Award for academic achievement. St. Peter’s College, Oxford University. Award for DPhil candidate with the best performance.
  • 2014 OeH, University of Vienna. Award for queer-feminist relevance of thesis on Secret Societies in Sierra Leone.

Ancillary activities

No ancillary activities

Ancillary activities are updated daily

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Academic qualification

Anthropology, PhD, DPhil in Anthropology, University of Oxford

Award Date: 14 Jan 2019


  • H Social Sciences

User created Keywords

  • Violence
  • Intimacy
  • Love
  • Law
  • Punishment
  • Confinement
  • Ethics
  • Creative Contractualism


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