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Tekalign Ayalew MengistePhD

About me

Dr. Tekalign Ayalew Mengiste is Associate Professor and senior researcher in the College of Social Sciences at Addis Ababa University and afliated researcher at the Department Of Social Anthropology at Stockholm University. Dr. Tekalign obtained his BA in History from AAU and MA and PhD degrees in Social Anthropology specializing in Transnational Migration from Stockholm University, Sweden. He has worked as lecturer, senior researcher and policy analyst at Arba Minch University, Addis Ababa University and Stockholm University.  He has an extensive knowledge on Ethiopian and African political and social history, forced displacement, challenges of peace building and indigenous conflict resolution mechanisms in Ethiopia and Africa. He has researched and widely published on issues such as tranansnational migration, gender relations, human smuggling, youth studies, forced mobility, legal anthropology, social/cultural capital and peacemaking, conflict management, and legal pluralism. He has conducted fieldwork in many countries in East Africa, Europe and the Middle East. He is engaged public anthropologist who has provided consultancy services and training on IDPs management, trauma healing, migration governance and conflict resolutions and mediation, and peacebuilding for Ethiopian government ministries (Ministry of Peace), IGAD, IOM, the Swedish government agencies, African Union Commission and other international organizations. Dr Tekalign has won grants and managed several research projects funded by the Swedish Research Council, Irish Research Council, Danida, IOM, ICRC, GIZ, IGAD, UNICEF, DIIS and other state and international agencies. Dr. Tekalign is also member of many international research councils and networks such as OSSREA, ESSSWA and IMESCOE.


Dr Tekalign has supervised numerus PhD, MA and BA students. He has teaching experience at MA and BA levels- forced migration, conflict management, security studies, anthropological theories, research methds and transnational migration. 


Dr. Tekalign’s current research focuses on ‘Migrant Preparatory Training and the Shaping of Circular Migration between Ethiopia and the Gulf States’, funded by the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet). This study deals with a critical dimension of the intensification and deepening of circular migration, namely the expansion of what we term “migrant preparatory training,” vocational education in the deployment of low-skilled documented international labour migrants from sending to receiving countries. Government-regulated training is part of an expanding migration infrastructure that prepares migrants for work abroad, while aiming to shape their aspirations and channel them into specific labour sectors in destination countries. Importantly, these training programs are becoming formalized through policy transfers from mature sending countries, most notably the Philippines, to countries such as Ethiopia, which is currently developing the most ambitious labour deployment program on the African continent. This project takes the circulation and implementation of these training programs as an empirical entry-point for understanding how the recruitment, preparation, deployment and channelling of documented low-skilled labour migration is evolving through increasingly sophisticated means. This is of great relevance for understanding the future of labour migration across world, not least to Europe. As part of this study,  he is also is exploring the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in disrupting migratory mobility between Ethiopia and the Gulf States including mass deportations form Lebanon and Saudi Arabia .

Research projects


Tekalign Ayalew Mengiste (2021). The State, Families and Disappeared Migrants in Ethiopia. African Human Mobility Review, vol 7. No.3.

Tekalign Ayalew Mengiste (2021): Intensifications of Border Governance and Defiant Migration Trajectories in Ethiopia, Geopolitics, DOI: 10.1080/14650045.2021.1874934.

A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Refugee Protections from Below

    2018. Tekalign Ayalew Mengiste. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 676 (1), 57-76


    This article is an analysis of the role of human smuggling practices and of the transnational social relations of Eritrean refugees exiting and transitioning through Ethiopia. Based on two years of multisited ethnographic fieldwork, I explore how smugglers, aspiring migrants, and former migrants, settled en route and in diasporic spaces, try to minimize the risk of violence through communities of support and knowhow. In so doing, I argue that smuggling is a socially embedded collective practice that strives to facilitate safe exit and transitions of Eritrean refugees despite the criminalization of migration, the militarization of borders, and the potential and existing criminal activity along Eritrean, Sudanese, and Ethiopian migratory corridors. The facilitation of irregular transits by migrants themselves reproduces a collective system of migratory knowledge that aims to bring refugees to safetya community of knowledgein which smuggling emerges as a system of refugee protection from below.

    Read more about Refugee Protections from Below
  • Struggle for Mobility

    2017. Tekalign Ayalew Mengiste.

    Thesis (Doc)

    On the basis of the ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Sweden, Italy, Sudan and Ethiopia during 2013–2015, this study examines the motivations, organizations and impact of overland migratory journeys from Ethiopia and Eritrea across the Sahara Desert and Mediterranean Sea to Sweden. The analysis involves the exploring of how migrants strive to prepare, manage and survive the multiple risks and structural barriers they encounter: the exits from Eritrea and Ethiopia, negotiations and contacts with various brokers and facilitators, organized crime and violence, restrictive border controls, passage through the Desert and high Sea and finally, ‘managing the asylum system in Sweden’. Further, it maps how the process of contemporary refugee mobility and multiple transitions is facilitated by the entanglement of transnational social relations and smuggling practices. The study argues for a perspective wherein migration journeys are embedded in and affected by the process of dynamic intergenerational, translocal and transnational social relations, material practices and knowledge productions. It depicts how practices and facilitations of irregular migratory mobility reproduce collective knowledge that refugees mobilize to endure risks during their journey, establishing a community and creating a home after arriving at the destination location.

    Read more about Struggle for Mobility
  • The emerging risks and developmental challenges to children and youth in Ethiopia

    2012. Tekalign Ayalew. Ethiopian Journal of the Social Sciences and Humanities 8 (2), 47-74


    This study is about the developmental challenges and adversities to children and the youth in Arba Minch which is one of the emerging towns of Ethiopia. Primary data for the study was collected through case stories, in-depth interview with key informants from families, experts in concerned organizations, FGD and observation methods. The purpose of the research was to explore how the emerging risk situations in the family, community and school environments are threatening the socio-economic and intellectual developments of children and the youth in the town. It is identified that there are adverse situations for thousands of children and the youth in the family, school and community environments. Risk factors in the community include high rate of substance abuse, crime and violence, unemployment, idleness and absence of children and youth recreational centers. The presence of shops that show pornographic and action video, drug centers around schools, shortage of educational inputs or teaching-learning facilities, absence of variety of learning styles, students’ misbehaviors, and low academic achievements have made schools ineffective. The family environment is also not comfortable for positive child development due to the prevalence of child abuse, child neglect, poverty and family disorganization.

    Read more about The emerging risks and developmental challenges to children and youth in Ethiopia

Show all publications by Tekalign Ayalew Mengiste at Stockholm University