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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Patrycja Stys

Patrycja Stys
Dr Patrycja Stys
Research Interests
Post-conflict reconstruction (state and social), Armed conflict, Forced migration, Informal economies and social innovation, Hybrid governance, African Studies, Comparative Politics, Refugee Studies, International Development, Security Studies


Postdoctoral Research Fellow, ‘A Comparative Analysis of Ex-Combatants’ Economic and Social-Political Power during and after War’


I received my DPhil in Politics and MPhil in Comparative Government (distinction) from the University of Oxford (Nuffield and St Antony’s Colleges, respectively), and a BA in International Studies, French, and Fine Art from Stetson University (Summa Cum Laude). I have been working on post-conflict state and social reconstruction since 2008, with my work primarily based in the Great Lakes Region of Africa.

My initial research focused on the repatriation and reintegration of refugees and former combatants in Rwanda, and has subsequently expanded into Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. My doctoral thesis, ‘With No Direction Home’: Refugee Resistance Against Repatriation in Africa’s Great Lakes Region Since 1994, examines the construction and contestation of nationalism, identity, and citizenship in exile. I map the social networks and political mobilisation of refugee communities and armed groups across state borders in one of Africa’s most protracted conflict-affected regions in order to better understand the practicalities of mending broken nation-states through the return of expatriated populations. In the past five years, I have conducted over 18 months of fieldwork in Rwanda, the DRC, and Uganda, in refugee camps, settlements, and transit centres; demobilisation centres; rebel-held territories; and communities in exile and those of return.

Current Project:

It is a great privilege to begin my postdoctoral career as a Research Fellow on the ESRC-DFID Poverty Alleviation Research Project ‘A Comparative Analysis of Ex-Combatants’ Economic and Social-Political Power during and after War’, headed by Prof Paul Nugent and Dr Zoe Marks. The project investigates conflict trajectories and the micro-dynamics of disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Our research will entail rigorous mixed methods, combining cross-country surveys, life history interviews, quantitative and qualitative analyses, and social network analysis. The study aims to improve peacebuilding and poverty alleviation interventions in such fragile states.

I also remain affiliated with the Oxford Diasporas Programme and serve as an expert for DFID’s Evidence, Analysis and Coordination Programme (EACP) on issues relating to the DRC.


‘Life in Refuge: Across Rwanda’s Camps and Uganda’s Settlements.’ In Diasporas Reimagined: Spaces, Practices and Belonging, edited by Nando Sigona, Alan Gamlen, Giulia Liberatore, and Hélène Neveu Kringelbach, 144–57. Oxford: University of Oxford, 2015.

‘FDLR: Past, Present and Policies.’ DR Congo Affinity Group Series. New York: Social Science Research Council (SSRC), March 24, 2014.

‘Civil Wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo: 1960-2010.’ African Affairs 112, no. 448 (2013): 520–21.

‘Revisiting Rwanda.’ Journal of Modern African Studies 50, no. 4 (2012): 707–20.

‘Living Through Elections in the DRC: The Sound of Holding One’s Breath.’ Democracy in Africa, 13 January 2012.