Tekalign Ayalew
Tekalign Ayalew

Telephone: +46 (0)8 16 20 00
E-mail: tekalign.ayalew@socant.su.se

Tekalign Ayalew joined the Department of Social Anthropology as a PhD student in the autumn of 2012 as part of the EU Marie Curie Initial Training Network “Diasporic Constructions of Home and Belonging” (CoHaB). His PhD project is about Diasporas, borders and transnational migration from the Horn of Africa to Scandinavia. Tekalign obtained a BA degree in History and Heritage Management and an MA degree in Social Anthropology from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia in 2004 and 2009 respectively. His master thesis deals with risks, resilience and achievements in child and youth life in Arba Minch, Ethiopia. Tekalign has worked as a lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Arba Minch University and Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia.


Struggle for Mobility. Diasporic practices and High-risk Migration pathways of Refugees from the Horn of Africa towards Europe

The current ‘migration and refugee crisis’ across the Mediterranean region, particularly as represented via images of human suffering and African migrants’ boat tragedies, has attracted media, public, academic and political attention. However, less is known about the conditions that shape overland migration from the Horn of Africa and migrants’ experiences before, during and after they arrive in northern European destinations. Long journeys across countries in political crises (for instance Libya), vast deserts and high seas are dangerous and fatal. But migrants’ vulnerability levels vary according to individual profile: age, gender, religion and access to finance – in the diaspora or countries of origin – needed in case of kidnapping for ransom or imprisonment en route. Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Sweden, Italy, Sudan and Ethiopia, 2013-2015, this study examines migrants’ subjective energy and collective practices in producing and appropriating networks and infrastructures that help them survive vulnerability and stepwise journeys, despite Europe’s creation and fortification of internal and external borders. Ethnographic accounts reveal complex factors and dynamic conditions behind the journey and its impacts. This dissertation depicts how Ethiopian and Eritrean migrants and refugees negotiate and navigate impeding and facilitating institutions and actors while organizing various stages of their mobility: departures from homelands, transit across the Sudan, Sahara desert, Libya, Italy and arrival and homemaking in Sweden. I attempt to explore community, historical and cultural dimensions and social forms of organizing ‘irregular migration’ and practices of human smuggling.



  • Tekalign Ayalew. "Ethiopian Diasporic Community Networks and Practice of Homemaking in Sweden." In Spatial Justice and Diaspora, edited by Sarah Keenan and Emma Patchett. Oxford: Counterpress. 


  • Ayalew Gebre, Tekalign Ayalew & Helmut Kloos. “Gender Inequalities, Power Relations and HIV AIDS: Exploring the Interface in Sub Saharan Africa”. In Eds. Getenet Tadele & Helmut Kloos, Vulnerabilities, Impacts, and Responses to HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa. Palgrave Macmillan: New York.


  • Tekalign Ayalew. The Emerging Risks And Developmental Challenges to Children and youth in Ethiopia: The Case Of Arba Minch Town. Ethiopian Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities. Vol. 8 (2), PP: 47-74.



Research networks

Guest research visits


Conferences, workshops


  • Immigrant Transnationalism And Movement Across Closed Borders: Ethio-Eritreans Transnational Journey To Sweden. Paper presented at Transnational Migration: Disciplinary Impacts. Organized by IMISCOE Research Group, Transmig-Transnational Practices in Migration At MIM, Malmö University, Sweden, January 29-30.
  • CoHaB´s third Summer School at the University of London, SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies)
    The Summer School was hosted by Dr. Parvathi Raman and the SOAS Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies. It explored how ideas of diaspora, and migration have travelled, cross-fertilized, and re-emerged across disciplines. The program included keynote speeches by experts in the field, as well as panels on gendering diasporas, law and labour migration, poetry and creative writing in diaspora studies, inter/trans-disciplinary studies and migrant activism. Speakers, panelists and performers included: Prof. Nira Yuval-Davis (UEL), Prof. Janet Wilson (University of Northampton), Dr. Shahram Khosravi (Stockholm University), Prof. Saskia Sassen (Columbia University); Professor Avtar Brah (Birbeck University of London), and Fortune Theatre Group among others, London, UK, April 9-15.


Lectures, seminars, teaching


  • 'Making’ Movement Across Closed Borders: Ethio-Eritreans' Transnational Migration to Sweden, CEIFO seminar paper, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University, March 3.



Information about past activities can be found in the Department’s previous Annual Reports.