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Introducing: Jonna Both

In March 2015 Jonna Both started working as a postdoctoral researcher within the VICI project ‘Connecting in Times of Duress’ of professor Mirjam de Bruijn.

For my BA I studied African Languages and Cultures at Leiden University from 2003-2006 and specialized in African History. I also followed a few courses in Medical Anthropology and Arabic. The first time I carried out research was for my Bachelor thesis in 2006. I went to Central Chad and conducted research in a former leprosy village. The research both focused on oral histories as well as the question of healing amongst ‘former’ leprosy patients, who were officially considered cured from leprosy but lived with disabilities, which greatly affected their lives in this rural community. 

For my Research Master in African History at the University of Leiden and the African Studies Centre, I conducted research, again in Chad in 2007, on the topic of girl migrants and domestic workers. In my thesis I focused on the urban networks between the girls themselves, their male counterparts and chiefs in the context of insecurity, aspirations and poverty in the capital city of a volatile country. 

Before I started a PhD, I worked for one and a half year with the Foundation for Refugee Students UAF in Utrecht. Here I advised refugee students and also carried out research on the integration of refugee medical doctors in the Dutch health care system.

PhD research - Uganda

Thereafter I started my PhD at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR) at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). The research was funded by NWO under the supervision of professor Ria Reis (LUMC/UvA) and professor Mirjam de Bruijn (Leiden University). 

In this PhD project my interests in African History and Medical Anthropology re-emerged. The project was focused on a marginal border region of Uganda. In the Yumbe District, West Nile, many different rebel groups had been active from 1979-2002 and my focus was on how young people’s life trajectories were influenced by these past conflicts. I focused on the impact of a militarized past and how this has influenced young people’s social imaginary up to today and I show how the persistence of such an imaginary relates to the unrelenting politics of marginalization and fragile prospects for enduring peace on Uganda’s fringes. During my PhD at the UvA I have taught several courses in the Bachelor Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology .

Connecting in Times of Duress

In line with the focus of the Connecting in Times of Duress (CTD) project in my postdoctoral research I will concentrate on what the long time impact of conflict and duress is on the social fabric and social memory in Central Africa. I will approach this from the angle of family (generational) histories. Within these family histories I hope to investigate how increasing access to ICT changes the experience of conflict in the region. I will carry out comparative research in Chad and Uganda and bring my earlier work and experience together in this new research project.

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