Background and activities
I'm a social geographer interested in and teaching and researching about children, youth and the structural transformation of their local environments in Africa
I grew up in Ethiopia, in the outskirts of Addis Ababa, witnessing how population growth and urban expansion has altered - in profound ways - the physical environment and field of childhood on which I played, learned and labored. In 1997, I graduated from Addis Ababa University with a BA (Distinction) majoring in Geography and minoring in Demography. After working in two INGO-funded senior secondary schools, I came to Trondheim in 2000 to pursue a postgraduate degree in Development Studies. At NTNU, I developed the interest in research with children, young people and families who are on the margins of society, and political economy. My PhD thesis was on Ethiopian childhoods with specific focus on child labourers, child beggars and orphans where as my post-doctoral research explored the perspectives of AIDS-affected children and family collectives on the interconnected issues of care, work, and livelihoods. I became appointed as an Associate Professor of Childhood Studies in 2010. A key aspect of my research engagements—which now include a study on social transitions into adulthood—was to document the time-space of young people’s livelihood pathways, and situate these pathways within broader frameworks of poverty, development, and rural and urban transformations. In recent years, I have deepened my interests to theorize the themes of childhood and social reproduction in Africa. The aim with this is to contribute to a critical understanding of the complex ways in which boys and girls acquire and transmit knowledge and skills that are vital to reproduce life in their local environments and beyond while simultaneously documenting the material contexts within which such processes of social reproduction take place.
I teach postgraduate courses namely Children and Development in the Global South (BARN 3300), and Methods and Ethics in Childhood Studies (BARN 3201). I also contribute lectures to Geographies of Health and Development (GEOG 3056). In any given year, I supervise upto six MPhil students who undertake research in diverse parts of the world on wide range of topics linked to children, youth, and international development. I also supervise PhD fellows who write their dissertations on youth marginalization and resistance in Brazil (completed 2013), rural childhood poverty in Zambia (ongoing), and children’s perspectives on parenting practices in Ethiopia (ongoing).
I lead the Nordic Network of African Childhood and Youth Research (NoNACYR, funded by NordForsk for the period of 2011-2015), and serve as Editorial Board Member of Childhood: A Global Journal of Child Research, and Children’s Geographies.