Dr Miriam Driessen

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies

Miriam Driessen is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies (SIAS) and a Junior Research Fellow of Jesus College, University of Oxford. Prior to joining SIAS in April 2016, Miriam completed a DPhil at the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography at Oxford (2014/15), and held a fellowship at Peking University (2014–2016).

Having conducted extensive fieldwork in China and Ethiopia, Miriam is interested in a broad range of topics, including mobility and stability, labour, race, and gender. Her dissertation examined labour relations on Chinese-run construction projects in Ethiopia, revealing the power of local practice in challenging socio-political asymmetries.

Miriam is also interested in how demographic and socio-economic change in mainland China prompts Chinese labour migration to Ethiopia, and Africa more generally. One theme she explores is the phenomenon of mortgage migration. The commercialisation of real estate in China, coupled with the social expectation that men own a house upon marriage, have culminated in young men – so-called ‘mortgage slaves’– moving to Africa for better paid work in order to enhance their chances of getting married.

More recently, Miriam has looked at the impact of Chinese migration and Chinese capital on Ethiopian society, with a focus on mobility. By examining the knock-on effect of Chinese migration to Ethiopia on the movement of Ethiopian female domestic workers to the Gulf States, she has explored the unintended and unexpected outcomes of Chinese involvement in Ethiopia.

Miriam’s research has appeared in The China Quarterly, Anthropology Today, the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, and Public Culture. A writer of literary nonfiction in her native language, Dutch, she is the author of Het Verloren Dorp (2011).