SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Till Jakob Frederik Trojer

BA (Bayreuth), MA (Hamburg)


Till Jakob Frederik Trojer
Till Jakob Frederik Trojer
Email address:
Thesis title:
Landscapes, salt and ethics: A visual ethnography of the 'Afar caravan trade in north-eastern Ethiopia
Internal Supervisors


Till Trojer is a Social and Visual Anthropologist at SOAS, University London (submission by April 15, 2021).

Till’s primary research interest is Political and Economic Anthropology (political ecology, perception of the environment, landscapes, agro-pastoralism, borderlands and boundaries, identity and self-identification processes, African colonial history, violence, conflict and development), Visual Anthropology, and Anthropology of Ethics.

Till’s PhD project explores how the declining salt caravan trade has affected the cultural, economic and social reality of one specific ‘Afar pastoral community in the Barhale district in north-eastern Ethiopia. The research shows how the historical trajectories that led to the decline of salt caravan trade in 2018 correspond to the broader questions about human agency, business ethics, trade relations, hospitality and self-identification processes and an ever-changing, precarious political landscapes in the Horn of Africa. His project argues that Anthropology has to engage with both the histories and actualities of how political economies and human ecologies correspond with one another over time and space.

Till is also a visual anthropologist and ethnographic filmmaker. He has worked as director and cameraman for documentary projects in Germany, Ethiopia and India. Alongside his written PhD dissertation, he has developed at 30minutes ethnographic documentary. The documentary, Arho – The ‘Afar Salt Trade of Northeastern Ethiopia, follows one of the last caravans on their journey to the ‘Afar Depression. Arho has been selected and played successfully at various film festivals in Europe, Africa and the United States in 2020/2021 (Mimesis Documentary Festival 2020, Out of Africa International Film Festival 2020, Macquire University International Ethnographic Film Festival 2020, Ethnografilm Paris 2021). Till has further trained in ethnographic and documentary film practice in cinema with Filmmaking For Fieldwork™ (F4F), in Manchester, UK.

Currently, Till is co-managing and working as a specialist for the Horn of Africa (since 2019) for the European Research Council (ERC) funded project The Political Economy of African Development. Ethnicity, Nation, and History at the London Business School (LBS), London. This project aims to understand the historical origins of contemporary African inequality and the long-run development impact of colonialism. It assesses the impact of colonial companies and concessionary politics and colonial "divide-and-rule" strategies and ethnic-based favouritism/discrimination on contemporary African political economy.

Till is on route to becoming Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA) under the United Kingdom Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) to teach and support learning in higher education.

Till held graduate teaching positions (GTA) at the Anthropology Department at SOAS (Introduction to Social Anthropology) and the Department of Social Science at the University College London (UCL) (Thinking through Identity). He is currently (2020/21) employed as a post-graduate teacher (PGTA) for the course Political Economy, Violence, Conflict and Development at Department of Development Studies at SOAS.