The Human Resources Strategy for Researchers

Doctoral student in anthropology

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    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    19/07/2019 23:59 - Europe/Brussels
    France › PARIS 06

This is a doctoral contract at CEMS with international mobility within IFRA.

At CEMS, this research will be part of a renewed dynamic during the new collective project 2018-2022 which allowed the laboratory to be recreated as an autonomous unit on 1 January 2019 (FRE 2023 CNRS-EHESS, U1276 INSERM). It will take place within Axis 1, "Living, participating, experimenting", which concerns forms of living together in the most ordinary activities of daily life, alternative political experiences and minute forms of discrimination and stigmatization. This axis opens up a reflection on empowerment and a counterpoint on the experience of powerlessness, for which the proposed study on refugees in Uganda will be a particularly stimulating example. The doctoral student will also be able to find many places for discussion and training in the working groups that structure the laboratory's collective research activity (in particular WG1: "Investigating Politics", WG3: "Collective Mobilizations and Public Issues", and WG5: "Risks, Violence and Reparations"). Finally, he/she will specifically find resources in the acquisition of research tools within the CEMS Doctoral Students' Workshop. A sociology laboratory with a pragmatic tradition, now with a strong anthropological component and no regional specialisation, CEMS constitutes a particularly rich framework for articulating theoretical reflection (particularly on categorisations and frameworks of social experience) and empirical investment in ethnographic research.

At IFRA Nairobi, crossing the axes "Politics in East Africa" and "Economic Dynamics", two research themes have been highlighted since September 2018 and will continue to be so in 2019 and 2020, the workers' and refugee worlds, due to their topicality in the countries within the Institute's geographical perimeter. The theme on refugees was fed by a seminar on resettlement ("The Resettlement Interview in Refugee Camps", 10 December 2018) bringing together young researchers and UNHCR professionals. IFRA will host the meeting of the Burundi Research Network (300 people expected) on refugees and exile in the Great Lakes region in early July 2019. Several research projects have been funded through IFRA field grants, including on the largest refugee camp in North Kenya, Daadab. A doctoral contract is an essential tool to strengthen this theme within IFRA. The doctoral student will thus benefit from a preliminary research dynamic on this theme and from a network of researchers already integrated into IFRA, with whom he/she will be able to dialogue, but he/she will be able to contribute to further develop this theme through his/her active participation in the scientific life of the institute (seminar, conference, articles), outside his/her field time; he/she will also be invited.e to organize an event in Kampala, to strengthen IFRA's presence in Uganda and to disseminate the results of its research, highlighting its usefulness, to government, bilateral and international actors in the Ugandan humanitarian field.

-- Refugees, exile and family in Uganda --

Since the 1980s, East Africa, the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region have faced considerable flows of refugees and internally displaced persons as a result of the political crises, civil wars, genocide and religious radicalization that have affected this vast region. Uganda is an exemplary case study because this East African country has been the world's leading refugee host country for the past ten years. Located at the crossroads of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi and Southern Sudan, Uganda hosts thousands of refugees, mainly in northern regions such as Acholiland, and southern regions at the gateway to the DRC. The phenomenon of refugee encampment in this part of Africa has been well studied by the social sciences and by the many national and international humanitarian actors. Many refugees, however, choose or are forced to settle outside the camps, especially considering that since the early 2010's, these camps have been reaching saturation point. There are currently more than 90,000 Southern Sudanese and Congolese in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, the latter mainly from the Kivus and Ituri regions. These urban refugees or asylum seekers with very different statuses flee the violence in their country of origin. The total absence of humanitarian aid and precarious living conditions push urban refugees to regroup on the basis of family and community ties, in order to organize their access to the resources necessary to ensure physical security, emotional well-being, social integration and the domestic economy.
However, there is almost no academic work on rebuilding family ties in situations of forced displacement in Uganda. Research in the north of the country has examined the disruption of the ordinary Acholi population as a result of armed violence and displacement [Finnström, 2008] and the difficult return of hostages of the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group to their families and communities [Baines, 2017], but the challenges of disaffiliation and reconstruction of individuals in post-conflict situations through the (re)production of family and social ties are hardly mentioned. Congolese refugees in Kampala are mainly studied through the prism of a grey literature that denounces their invisibility by institutional and humanitarian structures and examines the economic strategies implemented to compensate for these phenomena [Machiavello, 2004; Dolan, 2010]. Some scientific work focuses on the spatial issues of exile, including the collective appropriation of urban places for security and decision-making purposes [Lyytinen, 2015]. But these studies remain too few and too partial to provide a solid empirical and theoretical basis on family recompositions in exile.
This doctoral research project will address family reconfigurations in exile among Congolese and South Sudanese refugees living in Kampala. The aim will be to study the social effects of living conditions in the host country on individuals and their families. These living conditions are characterized by severe constraints, in a country where urban refugees are considered undesirable and should live in the camps intended for them, but also by social, economic and symbolic opportunities that are absent from the country of origin and whose absence was the cause of exile. Indeed, national legislation grants them the right to work, freedom of movement and access to health services, but refugees remain confronted with a daily situation of insecurity and danger, or even violence, which structures their experience of exile. What new relationships are being forged between individuals and families? What role(s) and place(s) are given to family solidarity, which are both resources and constraints in a new place to live? How do family organization and gender and generation roles change and with what effects?

These questions, among others, will allow us to revisit a classic theme of the social sciences, and anthropology in particular, the family, in the specific context of exile. Rather than considering the family as an immediate and natural fact, it will be necessary to question the family as a practice, dependent on a changing social context that affects it and the product. The family is a cyclical structure, retractable and extensible according to external pressures (climate of anxiety, crises) and the power relations that are deployed there. The reflection may take into account recent developments in family studies that use more precise concept of "household" based on the criterion of the same residence, or focused on economic production. It will take into account the existence of broader kinship and sociability groups as well as inclusion in social networks that go beyond kinship ties but also have influence over them. Among the social networks considered, the thesis will focus on two types of organized structures: associations and NGOs in charge of refugees and asylum seekers, which invoke family refocusing as an economic necessity for material success in exile situations; and churches, which are very popular with Congolese exiles in particular, which combine family and morality and make the family a condition for self-accomplishment. The candidate will question the daily reappropriation, or resistance or circumvention, of these bureaucratic and moral discourses on the positions that individuals adopt in the family, the modes of family organization that are being set up and the community operations that structure them.

The survey system will be organized around social networks in targeted districts of Kampala, through long-term immersion, interviews and informal discussions, and participant observation. To do this, a good command of English is essential, and learning Kiswahili is desirable, but French is also necessary for fieldwork with Congolese refugees. The collection of life stories will be privileged to understand the subjective nature of the migratory experience. The candidate will select about ten households to form central case studies. If security conditions permit, the candidate may be required to travel to the territories from where refugees leave in order to reconstruct the migratory trajectories of individuals and families taken as case studies. In addition, the survey will integrate the community mechanisms that refugees use for legal support, such as the Refugee Law Project and Inter-Aid. It will make it possible to work on the bureaucratic and administrative production of the status and representations of the "refugee". The churches will also be a privileged place of investigation to understand their role in the normative (re)production of the family in exile.

Required Research Experiences


Offer Requirements

    Anthropology: Master Degree or equivalent
    FRENCH: Basic
Work location(s)
1 position(s) available at
Centre d'étude des mouvements sociaux

EURAXESS offer ID: 422402
Posting organisation offer ID: 10450


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