Researchers on the program team: 

Mirjam de Bruijn is an anthropologist whose work has a clearly interdisciplinary character. She has done fieldwork in Cameroon, Chad and Mali and an important theme throughout is how people manage risk (drought, war, etc.) in both rural and urban areas. She focuses on the interrelationship between social space, marginality and mobility. Her specific fields of interest are: nomadism, youth and children, social (in)security, marginality/social and economic exclusion, violence, slavery, and human rights. In Mali she worked in the Mopti area with the Fulbe (Peul) and in Menaka with the Tamacheck (Tuareg), while in Chad she has worked in N’djamena (the capital) and in Central Chad with Hadjerai and Arab groups. In Cameroon she works in the Grassfields and the north.

Mirjam de Bruijn is the main applicant of this comparative, interdisciplinary program on new Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in relation to social space, marginality and mobility patterns in Central and West Africa. She has been appointed Professor of Contemporary History and Anthropology of West and Central Africa at the Faculty of Arts at Leiden University as of 15 June 2007 and pronounced her inaugural lecture “De telefoon heeft benen gekregen; Mobiele communicatie en sociale veranderingen in de marges van Afrika” on 5 September 2008. (

Francis Nyamnjoh is a sociologist and specialist in mass communication studies. He used to head the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Buea in Cameroon. In October 1999, however, he moved to Botswana, afterwards to Senegal and now resides in South Africa, where he teaches at the University of Cape Town as Professor in Social Anthropology. His publications include: ‘Media and Democratisation in Africa’, ‘Insiders and outsiders’, and various novels. In his academic work, the main areas of research are media, communication and notions of belonging in Africa.

He is the co-applicant of this program, supervises various case-studies and is member of the coordinating team. (

Inge Brinkman has been attached to the African Studies Centre since April 2008 while she carries out research into communication technologies and social relations in Angola. She is engaged in studying the historical relations between literacy/orality, elite-formation and the introduction of the mobile phone in Northern Angola, and coordinating a case-study on returnees, ‘development’ and new ICT in south-east Angola. These case-studies form part of a larger program, entitled ‘Mobile Africa Revisited, aimed at studying the relations between mobile telephony and social hierarchies.

Her former research at the ASC includes a study on mobile telephony in Sudan and writing a history of SNV, a Dutch development organisation. (

Naffet Keïta holds a PhD degree in Anthropology from the University of Bamako in Mali. In the program he supervises three MA candidates who study the relationship between mobile telephony, social space and local economies.

The case studies deal with social mobility and mobile telephone markets in Bamako (Seydou Magassa), social space, mobility and new ICT among former rebels in Northern Mali (Youssouf Ag Rissa) and social space, mobility and new ICT in Peul circles, Douentza (Boukary Sangare).

Djimet Seli attended the University of N’Djamena (Chad) from 1998 to 2006. He obtained a Master’s degree in History and Mass Communications. He is presently a Ph.D in the program. His topic is geared to the Central Chad region of Guéra. He is doing research on the Mobile Phone and its impact on the social relations in the marginalized regions and their diaspora. His topic is entitled: “Disconnecting the margins? Conflict-mobility and the introduction of ICT in Central Chad”. This study deals with the mobility of the Hadjaraï (mountain dwellers) in their relation with their diaspora.

Khalil Alio has a PhD in (African) Linguistics from the Philips-Universität, Marburg. In the program he aims at examining the linguistic changes and processes in connection with gender and mobile telephony in Guéra. The study is entitled: ‘Mobile phone, gender and language: the case of women and High Schoolgirls in the town of Mongo (Guéra, Chad).’ With this theme a differentiated perspective on relations between new ICT, language use, gender, social background and age among Hadjeraï migrants is envisaged. Apart from his own research, he supervises the Chadian case of Djimet Seli.

Fatima Diallo is a PhD student at the University of Gaston Berger of Saint Louis in Senegal where she did a master II degree on public Law. With a specialization on “decentralization and Management of local authorities”, she also did a Master Pro degree in African cyberspace Law.

At present, she aspires to work within the framework of her thesis on the subject “The technologies of information and the communication and the construction of the State under the rule of law in Senegal” where she tries to see the dynamic relation which could exist between the technologies of information and the communication and the construction of the rule of law in the Senegalese context, with a focus on the Casamance.

Imke Gooskens is a PhD candidate in the program, who lives in Cape Town after completing an undergraduate training in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam, and a Masters degree in Social Anthropology at the University of Cape Town. Her research proposal is entitled: ‘Negotiating mobility, identity and belonging: young Angolan migrants in Cape Town and their connections.’ and focuses on young Angolans, who came to South Africa alone or with their families seeking asylum and/or for their education. Some of these young people are –as they say- “going back home”, others are staying in South Africa, and many have not made such decisions. How are they making these decisions about their lives? What or where do these young people consider ‘home’ to be?

Henrietta Mambo is a PhD candidate in the program. Born in Cameroon, having studied in The Netherlands and now resident in South Africa, she will carry out research on Cameroonian migrants in South Africa and the Netherlands, with a focus on people born in the Pinyin and Mankon areas. The main research question deals with the relations between new ICT, social networking and patterns of migrancy. How do migrants relate to ‘home’, do they view processes of mobility in terms of centres and marginality and what is the role of new ICT therein?

Inge Butter is a PhD student connected to the program. She holds a Masters degree in Anthropology and Sociology from the University of Leiden and a Bachelor in Arabic Language and Culture from the same University. Her MA fieldwork took place in Cairo, Egypt among the informal garbage collectors, the zabbaleen. See her thesis ‘An Informal Waste Management System in Cairo’.

Having started in March 2011, the current PhD research project will take place inChad. The objective of this research is to gain an understanding of the reasons and ways in which Chadians (re)construct their identities while finding a means of belonging to the (insecure) society around them. The focus will be on the appropriation of Arabic and Islam, and on the use of (new) means of communication, such as ICTs. For more information, see the Preliminary Research Design. (

Tangie Fonchingong
holds a PhD in Policial Science from the State University of New York, Buffalo. In the program he carries out research on Nigerian migrants in West-Cameroon in a project entitled: ‘The political Economy of Transnational Mobility: The Case of the Nigerian Migrants in Anglophone Cameroon’. His research questions focus on processes of globalization, national borders and migrancy in Cameroonian-Nigerian relations. Apart from his own research, he supervises the Cameroonian case in the program.

Adamou Amadou holds a degree in Visual Anthropology from the University of Tromsø and is currently attached to the University of Ngaoundere (Cameroon). His PhD project is supported by the program and focuses on Bororo migrants from Chad and CAR who came to Cameroon. Their notions of home, identity and violence are central to the study. For more information, see the research proposal.

Amber Gemmeke is attached to the Africa Studies Centre in collaboration with the University of Bayreuth, Germany, since spring 2011. She obtained her PhD in Anthropology at the University of Leiden in 2008 and has since been working as a postdoc and researcher at the Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies.

Amber is especially interested in how religious expertise is influenced and shaped by (transnational) migration and media use and representations. Her PhD research focused on female religious authority in Dakar, Senegal, studying the ways in which marabout women negotiate and legitimate their religious authority publicly in a cosmopolitan urban setting. For her current research project, she investigates the interaction between West-African healers/mediums and their clients in the Netherlands. By zooming in on marabout-client interaction, she studies the negotiation and translation of spiritual, African, and Islamic worldviews in a European, dechurching Christian context. She is particularly interested in how this negotiation and translation is constructed and influenced by the micro dynamics of face to face interaction between marabout and client as well as by macro dynamics of discursively produced, reproduced and revised images – for example through media. For more information, see the research design ‘West African Marabouts in the Netherlands’.

Silvia Alessi
is an Italian MA student who completed her thesis on mobility, war and peace in Angola within the framework of the program. (

Hanneke Post is a Dutch MA student who is writing her thesis on communication technologies in Mali within the framework of the program.

Sjoerd Sijsma is a filmmaker (eyeses) who has made several productions for the program.

Siri Lamoureaux has finished her MA thesis on sms language among Sudanic students with support of the program.

Walter Gam Nkwi has just completed his PhD thesis on the Social History of Communication Technology and the nature and patterns of mobility amongst the Kom of Northwest Cameroon, with support of the program. His PhD dissertation is entitled ‘Kfaang and its technologies. Towards a social history of mobility in Kom, Cameroon, 1928-1998’.

Kate Jackson is an MA student at the University of Cape Town. Her thesis title is: “Intimacies and Distances: Mobility, Belonging and the use of Information and Communication Technologies by Cameroonian Students in Cape Town”.


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