Léonie S. Newhouse, PhD is a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity. As a feminist political and economic geographer, she is interested in the intersections of global geopolitics, migration, international development and humanitarian response. For over 15 years, her professional work and scholarship has focused on the experiences of both forced and economic migrants as they seek to reconstruct their lives and livelihoods in the wake of conflict. She has previously taught at Penn State University, the University of Washington, Juba University, and the American University in Cairo. She earned her PhD (Geography) from the University of Washington, her MSc (Forced Migration) from Oxford and her BS (Environmental Economics & Policy) from UC Berkeley.

extended biography

I am currently a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity. My scholarship takes a feminist approach

Research Interests

I'm particularly interested in the everyday practices of movement and future seeking at various scales—e.g. within the city, throughout regions, or across deserts, seas and oceans—that characterize the lives of many young people in eastern and central Africa. In this context, the distinction between labor migration, displacement, opportunity seeking, investment, and adventure is often blurred as migrants navigate multiply constituted precarities. My research brings an analysis of contemporary humanitarian practice into conversation with empirically rich and ethnographically informed ground-up perspectives on migrants in post-conflict places. These interests have so far coalesced around three main projects: Imaginaries of Opportunity, Urban Attractions and Returning to South Sudan. More details can be found below.

Imaginaries of Opportunity:
Imaginaries of Opportunity

Precarious labor and migrant flows in the shadow of humanitarian urbanism. We know that complex emergencies bring influxes of skilled professionals and foreign currency to

Imaginaries of Opportunity:
Urban Attractions:
Urban Attractions

Returnee youth, mobility and the search for a future in South Sudan’s regional towns. This project (completed in late 2011) explored the various ways that

Urban Attractions:
Returning to South Sudan:
Returning to South Sudan

A political economy of refugee return migration. My dissertation examines how people’s everyday life and habits have been transformed by living in a refugee camp,

Returning to South Sudan:



  • Introduction to Contemporary Africa (AFR 110)
  • Poverty in Africa (AFR 209)


  • International Development & Environmental Change (GEOG 270)
  • Introduction to Human Geography (GEOG 200)
  • Migration & the Global Economy (GEOG 344)
  • Introduction to Globalization (GEOG / SIS 123)


  • Research Design (Graduate level)
  • Research Methodologies (Graduate level)
  • Research Ethics(Graduate level)
  • Human Rights in Culture and Practice (ANTH 323 / LSJ 321)

Contact Info

Léonie S. Newhouse

Research Fellow

Department of Socio-Cultural Diversity

MPI for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity

Hermann-Foge-Weg 11

37073 Göttingen



+49 (551) 4956 - 117