SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Mikal Woldu

BSc (London South Bank), MSc (Brunel)


Mikal Woldu
Mikal Woldu
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Thesis title:
A Cross-national and Inter-generational Investigation of Eritrean Migrants in London and Milan (Working title)
Internal Supervisors


Mikal holds a BSc in Psychology from London South Bank University (2010) and a MSc in Anthropology of Childhood, Youth and Education from Brunel University (2013). Her Masters’ dissertation was an anthropological investigation exploring how Eritrean youth who were born and/or raised abroad for most of their lives, developed transnational ties towards Eritrea that shaped their sense of identity. From fieldwork conducted in Eritrea, it emerged that Eritrean diasporic youth were often forced to renegotiate their sense of identity and Eritreaness whilst in Eritrea, where notions of belonging and home became fluid and situationally driven concepts.

Born in Milan, Italy, to Eritrean parents Mikal has always been passionate about education, youth work and her Eritrean background. To further explore her understanding of the experiences of Eritrean migrant communities in the diaspora, Mikal is now pursuing her PhD in Social Anthropology. Her research is an investigation of how Eritrean migrant communities in Milan and London are shaped by the society in which they live in, with regard to their community engagement, their interaction with Eritrean and local institutions, and in relation to their sense of identity and belonging.

PhD Research

It was estimated that by 1991, which marked the end of the war for independence from Ethiopia, about 1 million Eritreans were abroad, against the 3 millions who stayed in Eritrea. Large numbers of Eritreans are now residing predominantly in Western Europe, North America and in the Middle East, however very little is known about those migrants’ experiences from an anthropological point of view. The aim of my research is to investigate to what extent history, and context of migration and settlement have shaped Eritrean migrants’ transnational engagement over time.

My research builds on literature on transnationalism and diaspora, and focuses on Eritrean migrant communities in London (UK) and Milan (Italy), in an attempt to unravel the complex experiences of Eritrean migrants and their offspring, in two demographically, historically, politically and socio-economically very different contexts. As migrants are also embedded within the national social field of the host country, this investigation seeks to unravel the multiple ways in which settlement in a host society and inter-states relations between the country of origin and the host country shape migrants’ abilities to engage in transnational practices. Furthermore I wish to explore to what extent different forms of ‘connectivity’ shape, and are shaped by, gendered and generational differences in relation to identity construction, national belonging and issues of citizenship.