Markus is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Geography, where he joined in April 2018 to contribute to the ESRC-funded International Distance Education and African Students (IDEAS) project.
Markus’ research interest is in the relationship between migration and social mobility in contemporary sub-Saharan Africa. His key concern is to understand how people’s values, knowledge and perspectives transform through migration, and how these processes generate social distinctions as well as new groups and senses of belonging. In his PhD research, he explored the relationship between urban-urban migration and the formation of a loosely defined group that can be described as being middle class in Ethiopia. Specifically, he focused on the social outcomes of a massive expansion of higher education, contestations over politicized and territorialized ethnicity, and on how people conceptualized progress in their own lives in relation to a hegemonic development discourse in Ethiopia. Markus has conducted extensive anthropological fieldwork and is trained in qualitative research methods. He has also conducted policy research for IOM and ICMPD on perceptions of risk and on smuggling among Ethiopian and Eritrean migrants and refugees in the Horn of Africa.
In addition to his research, Markus has volunteered and worked with asylum seekers and refugees in different countries. His work involved ensuring provision for their basic needs, resolving conflicts, finding suitable help for dental, physical and mental health issues, as well as providing other forms of support to migrants. In the process of building relationships and helping vulnerable and destitute refugees navigate complex social care terrains, he developed a critical understanding of migrants’ rights and how governments respond to migration flows and provide for migrants through welfare policies. His work with asylum seekers and refugees taught him about migrants’ diverse everyday strategies and their claims to migrant rights in new urban contexts, which helps him in conceptualizing and exploring questions relating to individuals’ migration strategies amidst shifting national and local policies.
Before Markus joined the Open University, he was an Associate Tutor in Social Anthropology in the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex. He completed his PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of Sussex in 2017. Prior to his doctoral research, he obtained a MaRes in ‘Anthropological Research Methods’ from SOAS, UK, and a BA in Social Sciences from NTNU, Norway, and Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia.