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Dr Markus Roos Breines

Profile summary

Professional biography

Markus is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Sociology, where he joined in July 2019 to contribute to the HERA-funded Moving Marketplaces (MMP) project.

Markus’ research interest is in the relationship between migration and social mobility. His key concern is to understand how people’s values, knowledge and perspectives transform through migration, and how these processes generate social distinctions as well as new groups and senses of belonging. In his PhD research, he explored the relationship between urban-urban migration and the formation of a loosely defined group that can be described as being middle class in Ethiopia. Specifically, he focused on the social outcomes of a massive expansion of higher education, contestations over politicized and territorialized ethnicity, and on how people conceptualized progress in their own lives in relation to a hegemonic development discourse in Ethiopia. Markus has conducted extensive anthropological fieldwork and is trained in qualitative research methods. He has also conducted policy research for IOM and ICMPD on perceptions of risk and on smuggling among Ethiopian and Eritrean migrants and refugees in the Horn of Africa.

In addition to his research, Markus has volunteered and worked with asylum seekers and refugees in different countries. His work involved ensuring provision for their basic needs, resolving conflicts, finding suitable help for dental, physical and mental health issues, as well as providing other forms of support to migrants. In the process of building relationships and helping vulnerable and destitute refugees navigate complex social care terrains, he developed a critical understanding of migrants’ rights and how governments respond to migration flows and provide for migrants through welfare policies. His work with asylum seekers and refugees taught him about migrants’ diverse everyday strategies and their claims to migrant rights in new urban contexts, which helps him in conceptualizing and exploring questions relating to individuals’ migration strategies amidst shifting national and local policies.

Before Markus joined the MMP project, he was a Research Associate on the ESRC-funded International Distance Education and African Students (IDEAS) project at the Open University. He has also been an Associate Tutor in Social Anthropology in the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex. He completed his PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of Sussex in 2017. Prior to his doctoral research, he obtained a MaRes in ‘Anthropological Research Methods’ from SOAS, UK, and a BA in Social Sciences from NTNU, Norway, and Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia.


Beyond #FeesMustFall: International students, fees and everyday agency in the era of decolonisation (2020)
Raghuram, Parvati; Breines, Markus Roos and Gunter, Ashley
Geoforum, 109 (pp. 95-105)

Ethnicity across regional boundaries: migration and the politics of inequality in Ethiopia (2019)
Breines, Markus Roos
Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies ((Early Access))

Infrastructures of immobility: enabling international distance education students in Africa to not move (2019)
Breines, Markus Roos; Raghuram, Parvati and Gunter, Ashley
Mobilities, 14(4) (pp. 484-499)

Distance Education as socio-material assemblage: Place, distribution and aggregation (2019)
Gunter, Ashley; Raghuram, Parvati; Breines, Markus and Prinsloo, Paul
Population, Space and Place ((Early Access))

WhatsApp use among African international distance education (IDE) students: transferring, translating and transforming educational experiences (2019)
Madge, Clare; Breines, Markus Roos; Dalu, Mwazvita Tapiwa Beatrice; Gunter, Ashley; Mittelmeier, Jenna; Prinsloo, Paul and Raghuram, Parvati
Learning, Media and Technology, 44(3) (pp. 267-282)

The same course, different access: the digital divide between urban and rural distance education students in South Africa (2019)
Lembani, Reuben; Gunter, Ashely; Breines, Markus and Dalu, Mwazvita Tapiwa Beatrice
Journal of Geography in Higher Education ((Early Access))