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Dr Leonie Newhouse

Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography+44 (0) 191 33 41855


I consider myself to be an economic and political geographer interested in questions around conflict, displacement, other forms of mobility and urbanization. I am particularly interested in the dynamic social assemblages that coalesce in times of uncertainty and flux, whether due to economic crisis, ongoing conflict, or the arrival of vast aid infrastructures after socio/natural disasters. In my scholarship, I draw on feminist, decolonial and critical readings of political economy to understand the conditions of produced hyper-precarity that shape livelihood and mobility strategies across much of Africa, and more broadly the developing world. While more recently I have focused on the urban as a site and imaginary that animates mobilities, I am deeply interested in the intersections between urbanization (and ideas around urban futures) and the viability of agricultural and pastoral lifeways. Methodologically, I value long-term ethnographic engagement, accountability, and co-production of knowledge.

Past work has considered the political economies of refugee return migration to South Sudan (2009-2011) by exploring the relationship between migration, resource claims and livelihood practices in a small rural town. A related project examined the job-seeking strategies and political subjectivities of the many young returnees looking for work in rapidly urbanizing South Sudan (2011). More recently, I’ve explored to the ways in which large-scale humanitarian and state-building interventions reshape regional migration patterns, economies and social relations in urban centers in East Africa. Here at Durham, I continue to work on themes related to displacement, mobility, and work in the East African neighborhood.

In the past few years, I’ve worked to develop the Academy for African Urban Diversity—a series of graduate training workshops that support emerging African and Africanist scholars through network building, professional development and peer-critique—in collaboration with colleagues Prof. Loren Landau (University of Witwatersrand) and Dr. Serawit Bekele Debele (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity).


I welcome doctoral research students interested in working on topics related to urban Africa; refugees and displacement; land and resource rights; and more generally the socialities that underpin economies. I'm also keen to support research focused on the Sudans, the Horn, and the Sahel. I particulalry welcome students from these regions, with non-traditional pathways into academia, and/or those who have experienced displacement. 

Currently I have a role in supervising:

  • Hamza Lakhal


Journal Article

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

Working Paper

Supervision students