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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Tanja Hendriks

Tanja Hendriks
Tanja Hendriks
African Studies School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh UK
Research Interests
Malawi, ethnography, Anthropology of the state, civil servants, disaster governance, relief interventions, Humanitarianism, Bureaucracy, everyday practices, Anthropology of development, state legitimacy, sovereignty, human security, Storytelling and ethnography, linguistic anthropology, Chichewa

PhD Title

Governance and Human Security: the state and everyday practices of governing in disaster relief interventions in Malawi

Dr. Gerhard Anders (University of Edinburgh) & Professor Paul Wenzel Geissler (University of Oslo)

This PhD-project forms part of the ANTHUSIA project on the Anthropology of Human Security in Africa.

States are commonly considered responsible for protecting their citizens from harm and safeguarding their livelihoods. Yet this is no easy task for Malawi; a donor-dependent and disaster prone country with limited state capacity. When disaster strikes, the Malawi state thus engages in complex collaborations with donors, non-governmental organizations, global humanitarian aid institutions, volunteers and (affected) citizens to carry out relief interventions. By exploring these collaborations with a focus on the everyday practices of civil servants working in the Department of Disaster Management Affairs, I aim to answer the following research question: how do the everyday practices of governing in disaster relief interventions shape and construct the legitimacy of the Malawi state?


Research Master’s (MA) in African Studies, African Studies Centre, Leiden University (2013 – 2016). Judicium: cum laude. Fieldwork in Malawi.

Master of Science (MSc) in International Development Studies, University of Amsterdam (2013 – 2015). Judicium: cum laude. Fieldwork in Burundi.

Bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, University of Amsterdam (2009 – 2012). Judicium: cum laude.


Africa Thesis Award 2016, African Studies Centre Leiden

Work experience:

2016 – 2018 Junior researcher at the African Studies Centre, Leiden University, The Netherlands.

September 2016 – September 2017: junior researcher in the NWO-funded project ‘Increasing Political Leverage of Informal and Formal Workers’ Organizations for Inclusive Development. The cases of Ghana and Benin’.               Fieldwork in Accra, Ghana. Principal Investigator: Dr. Mayke Kaag.

September 2017 – September 2018: assistant to Professor Rijk van Dijk.  


Hendriks, T.D. (2017) ‘Collaboration and competition: market queens, trade unions and collective action of informal workers in Ghana’s Makola Market’ Interface: a journal for and about social movements, 9 (2): 162 – 187 (Nov/Dec 2017).

Hendriks, T.D. (2017) Home is always home”. (Former) Street Youth in Blantyre, Malawi, and the Fluidity of Constructing Home. African Studies Collection, Volume 69. Leiden: African Studies Centre.