Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Dr Gunvor Jonsson

Key information

Department of Anthropology and Sociology Research Associate
BA Hons (University of Pretoria); MA (University of Copenhagen); PhD (SOAS)
Russell Square: College Buildings
Email address

Research interests

I work primarily on development, migration and (im)mobilities in Africa with a focus on francophone/Islamic West Africa. My collaborative and independent research has tackled key aspects of mobility in Africa through pioneering projects which have privileged the perspectives of African scholars and migrants themselves. I have conducted anthropological fieldwork in Mali,
Senegal, and South Africa, and collaborative inter-disciplinary research with partners in Ghana, Nigeria, Morocco, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

I am currently completing a book manuscript tentatively entitled Terminus: The Ends of Malian Women´s Railway Commerce in Neoliberal Dakar. The book is an exploration of “endings”, revolving around the demolition of the Malian market at the terminus station of the Dakar-Niger railway line, in the heart of the Senegalese capital. Neo-liberal policies implemented by former President Wade led to the privatisation of the railway line in Senegal and the subsequent bulldozing of the Malian
market at the Dakar terminus in 2009. I explored the consequences, which were felt especially by women traders who had travelled the line since its inauguration, making the terminus station in Dakar the centre of a thriving network of settled Malian migrants and mobile traders and visitors. The main interlocutors of the book are childless, divorced, and widowed women, who have been increasingly drawn into trade and travel during the recent decades of economic and political liberalisation in Senegal and Mali. The book is based on my doctoral thesis, which was awarded the 2015 RAI/Sutasoma Award by the Royal Anthropological Institute.

Prior to joining SOAS I was a Departmental Lecturer in Migration and Development at the Oxford Department of International Development (ODID, University of Oxford). From 2008 onwards I was a key member of the research team at the International Migration Institute (IMI) at the University of Oxford, where I worked on the African Migrations Programme and on projects including African Perspectives on Human Mobility; Mobility in the African Great Lakes; and Theorizing the Evolution of European Migration Systems (THEMIS). I am a founding member of the virtual IMI network, IMIn (, and Review Editor of Migration & Society (Berghahn Journals).


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