Dr. Marnie Thomson

Dr. Marnie Thomson
Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Areas of interest

  • Migration and borders
  • Human rights and humanitarianism
  • War and conflict
  • Displacement and refugee camps
  • Sovereignty and governance
  • Anthropology of gender
  • Sexual and gendered violence
  • Memory and narrative
  • Public anthropology
  • Multi-sited ethnography (Tanzania, DRC, Kenya, Switzerland, US)


  • Ph.D., Anthropology, University of Colorado, 2016
  • M.A., Social Sciences, University of Chicago, 2006
  • B.A., Washington University in St. Louis, 2004


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About Dr. Marnie Thomson

Marnie Thomson is a cultural anthropologist whose research focuses on the intersection of humanitarian politics and people’s everyday attempts to cope with violence. Her first research project examines the implementation of humanitarian solutions across national borders, specifically focusing on the closure of UN refugee camps in Tanzania and the withdrawal of peacekeeping forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Thomson conducted ethnographic research with the recipients and providers of humanitarian aid in a variety of settings, from refugee homes in UN camps to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) headquarters. This research was funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the Social Science Research Council. Thomson’s new research project focuses on campaigns against sexual violence and gender-based violence in Congo and in the United States. She was awarded the inaugural Human Rights Defender Award in 2011 by the Society for Applied Anthropology for advocating for refugee rights both during and beyond her field research, and Thomson remains committed to promoting global awareness and social justice through her research, writing, and teaching.

Selected Publications

2019. Refugees’ Roles in Resettlement from Uganda and Tanzania: Agency, Intersectionality and Relationships. Co-authored with Christina Clark-Kazak. Refugees’ Roles in Resolving Displacement and Building Peace: Beyond Beneficiaries, edited by Megan Bradley, James Milner, and Blair Peruniak. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.

2018. What Documents Do Not Do: Papering Persecution and Moments of Recognition in a Refugee Camp. Anthropologica 60: 223-235.

2018. “Giving Cases Weight”: Congolese Refugees’ Tactics for Resettlement Selection. Refugee Resettlement: Power, Politics and Humanitarian Governance, edited by Adèle Garnier, Liliana Lyra Jubilut and Kristin Bergtora Sandvik. Oxford: Berghahn Books.

2015. Mud, Dust, and Marougé: Precarious Construction in a Congolese Refugee Camp. Architectural Theory Review 19(3):376-392.

2012. Black Boxes of Bureaucracy: Transparency and Opacity in the Resettlement Process of Congolese Refugees. Political and Legal Anthropology Review 35(2):186-205.

Public Anthropology Selections

2017. Rage and Despair, In Response to Trump’s Executive Orders. Anthropology News, September 6.

2017. Revoked: Refugee Bans in Effect. Maintaining Refuge: Anthropological Reflections in Uncertain Times, edited by David Haines, Jayne Howell, and Fethi Keles. American Anthropological Association, Committee on Refugees and Immigrants, 95-102.

2017. Refugees, Immigrants, and Trump’s Executive Order: Six Anthropologists Speak Out. With Catherine Besteman, Elizabeth Cullen Dunn, Tricia Redeker Hepner, Carole McGranahan, and Nomi Stone. Anthro{dendum}, the Blog Formerly Known as Savage Minds, February 2.

2014. In Dialogue: Ethnographic Writing and Listening. Anthro{dendum}, the Blog Formerly Known as Savage Minds (http://www.savageminds.org), September 21.