Anne Menzel

Research Interests
Social change in war and post-war societies; social theory and concepts of change and resistance (to change or for change); forced migration, refugees and the ‘refugee crisis’ in Europe; challenges of integration and alternatives to integration (as a way of thinking about desirable and existing social relations); the politics, policies and practices of ‘improvement’ such as peacebuilding, development and humanitarian aid; global health; concepts and empirical research of internationalized power and rule

Research Area(s)
Sierra Leone, Germany, Bosnia and Herzegovina


Anne Menzel received her PhD in political science from Freie Universität Berlin. Her doctoral research (funded by Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes) focused on ‘unpeaceful relations’ in post-war Sierra Leone, meaning relations marked by expectations of violence and/or the willingness to employ violence. Her comparison of empirically defined unpeaceful relations (based on data from her fieldwork) with common assumptions in peacebuilding policy and policy-oriented research revealed significant discrepancies. Rather than a clear-cut cleavage between former fighters (or ‘ex-combatants’) and the civilian population, she found that unpeaceful relations are located between those who remain suspicious of ‘dangerous young men’ and those who are presumed to be former fighters and, therefore, dangerous. Both categories include civilians and ex-combatants.

After finishing her PhD, Anne worked as a freelance consultant for the London-based NGO International Alert, where she analysed ongoing conflicts, gender relations, foreign investment and large-scale land deals in West Africa. During a fellowship within the framework of the DFG-funded programme ‘Dynamics of Security: Processes of Securitization in Historical Perspective’, she studied how, in the name of security and development, certain people and activities are excluded from tangible improvement and rendered deviant. An example is the criminalization of protest against foreign direct investment in Sierra Leone. In light of current events, her attention soon shifted to the Ebola crisis and the international humanitarian response. She began teaching at the Institute of the History of Medicine at Justus Liebig Universität Gießen, where she developed seminars on humanitarian relations and the ‘dark sides’ of helping – first with a focus on the Ebola crisis and later with a broader perspective on humanitarian emergencies, including the refugee crisis.

Her current work in the Department of Law and Anthropology at the MPI (Halle) is directed towards the development of a collaborative interdisciplinary research project on migration, flight and asylum. As a first step, she is mapping recent and ongoing research projects in Germany that focus on migration, integration and refugees. The mapping will provide a basis for identifying common assumptions, research trends and, possibly, blind spots in recent and ongoing research.

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