Prof. dr. Mirjam de Bruijn

Mirjam de Bruijn is an anthropologist whose work has a clearly interdisciplinary character with a preference for contemporary history and cultural studies. She focuses on the interrelationship between agency, marginality, mobility, communication and technology. Mirjam is an Africanist with a focus on West and Central Africa. She did, and does, extensive (qualitative) fieldwork in Cameroon, Chad and Mali. Her specific fields of interest are: nomadism, youth and children, social (in)security, poverty, marginality/ social and economic exclusion, violence, slavery, human rights, and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).

In Mali she has worked in the Mopti area with the Fulɓe (Peul) and in Menaka with the Tamacheck (Tuareg), while in Chad she has worked in N’Djamena (the capital) and in Central Chad with Hadjerai and Arab groups. In Cameroon she works in the Grassfields and in the north. From 2008 to 2013 she was coordinating the research programme ‘Mobile Africa Revisited’ – a comparative study of the interrelationship between Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), agency, marginality and mobility patterns in Africa. In 2012 Mirjam was awarded a Vici grant (NWO), namely ‘Connecting in Times of Duress: Understanding Communication and Conflict in Middle Africa’s Mobile Margins’. Her CTD subproject is entitled ‘Youth, Media and Protest: Histories of Engaging in Central African politics and social life’. Since 2013 she has developed the project ‘Voice4Thought’ which is an example of valorization of research.

Recently, she received funding from the World Bank for a project on Mobile Money (2015-2016) in Africa, and from UNICEF (2016-2018) to develop a project on Child soldiers in the Central African Republic.

Mirjam de Bruijn was appointed Professor of Contemporary History and Anthropology of Africa at the Faculty of Arts at Leiden University as of June 15th, 2007. She pronounced her inaugural lecture “De telefoon heeft benen gekregen; Mobiele communicatie en sociale veranderingen in de marges van Afrika” (English version) on September 5th, 2008. As of August 2010 Mirjam de Bruijn has been appointed honorary fellow at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Mirjam de Bruijn’s bibliography can be viewed here.

CTD publications by Mirjam de Bruijn:


  • de Bruijn, M. E., (2017), ‘Croquemort: A Biographical Journey in the Context of Chad’, Bridging Humanities 1(1): 0-0.
  • de Bruijn, M. E., & J. Both, (2017), ‘Youth Between State and Rebel (Dis) Orders: Contesting Legitimacy from Below in Sub-Sahara Africa’, Small Wars & Insurgencies 28(4-5): 779-798.
  • de Bruijn, M. E., I. Brinkman & J. Both (2017), ‘The mobile phone and society in South Sudan: A critical historical-anthropological approach’, Journal of African Media Studies 9(2): 323-337
  • de Bruijn, M. E. A. Amadou, E. Lewa Doksala, B. Sangaré (2016), ‘Mobile pastoralists in Central and West Africa: between conflict, mobile telephony and (im)mobility’, Rev. Sci. Tech. Off. Int. Epiz. 35:2, 649-657.
  • de Bruijn, M.E., L Pelckmans & B. Sangare (2015), ‘Communicating war in Mali, 2012: On-offline networked political agency in times of conflict’, Journal of African Media Studies 7(2): 109-128.
  • de Bruijn, M. E., E. Boesen & L. Marfaing (2014), ‘Nomadism and mobility in the Sahara-Sahel: introduction’, Canadian Journal of African Studies 48(1): 1-12.
  • de Bruijn M.E. (2014), ‘Connecting in Mobile Communities: an African case study’, Media Culture and Society 36(3): 319-335.
  • de Bruijn, M. E. & W. Gam Nkwi (2014), ‘‘‘Human Telephone Lines’’: Flag Post Mail Relay Runners in British Southern Cameroon (1916–1955) and the Establishment of a Modern Communications Network’, International Review of Social History 59: 211–235.
  • de Bruijn, M. E., C. M. Tankou, H. H. de Iongh, G. Persoon & G. R. de Snoo (2014), ‘Determinants and Impacts Of Human Mobility Dynamics In The Western Highlands Of Cameroon’, International Journal of Scientific & Technology Research 3(8): 40-50.
  • de Bruijn, M.E. (2013), ‘Mobiele telefoniecultuur in Afrika: internationaal vakmanschap in Kameroen’, Internationale Spectator 66(5): 245-250.
  • de Bruijn, M. E., M. Bøås, L. Gayer & M. Debos (2013), ‘Autour d’un livre. ‘Le métier des armes au Tchad: le gouvernement de l’entre-guerres’ de Marielle Debos’, Politique Africaine (132): 175-196.
  • de Bruijn, M.E., R. Jeffrey & A. Doran (2013), ‘The Great Indian Phone Book: How Cheap Mobile Phones Change Business, Politics and Daily Life, South Asia, South Asia’, Journal of South Asian Studies 36(4): 684-685.
  • de Bruijn, M.E. & R. van Dijk (2012), ‘Connecting and Change in African Societies: Examples of ‘ethnographies of linking’ in Anthropology’, Anthropologica 54: 45-59.

Book chapters:

  • De Bruijn, M. E. & I. Brinkman (2018), ‘Mobile phones in mobile margins: communication, mobility and social hierarchies in/from Africa’ in B. Mutsvairo (ed.), Palgrave Handbook for Media and Communications Research in Africa, Palgrave/Macmillan/ Springer.
  • De Bruijn, M. E. & W. Nkwi (2017), ‘Stamps surrender to mobile phones: Reading the communication ecology of erstwhile West Cameroon’ in: W. van Beek, J. Damen & D. Foeken (eds.) The Face of Africa, essays in Honour of Ton Dietz, Leiden: ASCL Occasional Publication 268, 165-185.
  • de Bruijn, M. E. (2017), ‘Mediated Political Agency in Contested Africa’ in: L. Hjorth, H. Horst, A. Galloway & G. Bell (eds.) The Routledge Companion to Digital Ethnography, New York: Routledge, 396-405.
  • de Bruijn, M. E. (2017), ‘Mediated Political Agency in Contested Africa’ in: L. Horst, A. Galloway, and G. Bell (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Digital Ethnography, New York: Routledge, 141-157.
  • de Bruijn, M. E. & D. Lalaye (2016), ‘Ambiguities of oppression: Engaged Chadian artist’s itinerary towards success’ in: B. Mutsvairo, Digital activism in the Social Media Era. Critical Reflections on Emerging Trends in sub-Saharan Africa, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • de Bruijn, M.E. (2016), ‘Citizen Journalism at Crossroads: Mediated Political Agency and Duress in Central Africa’ in: B. Mutsvairo (ed), Participatory Politics and Citizan Journalism in a Networked Africa, a connected continent (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 90-106.
  • de Bruijn, M. E. (2015), ‘New ICT and mobility in Africa’ in: N. Sigona, A. Gamlen, G. Liberatore, H. N. Kringelbach (eds.) Diasporas Reimagined: Spaces, Practices and Belonging, United Kingdom: Oxford Department of International Development, University of Oxford, 140-145.
  • de Bruijn, M.E. (2014), ‘The Itinerant Koranic School, Contested Practice in the history of society and religion in Central Chad’ in: J. Bouju & M. E. de Bruijn (eds.) Ordinary Violence in Africa, Leiden: Brill, 63-84.
  • de Bruijn, M. E. (2013), ‘Mobile Telephony and Socioeconomic Dynamics in Africa’ in: G. I. Ingram (ed.), Infrastructure and Land Policies, Cambridge, masachusetts: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 61-83.
  • de Bruijn, M.E., I Brinkman & F. Nyamnjoh (2013), ‘Introduction: Mobile margins and the dynamics of communication’ in: M. E. de Bruijn et al. (eds.), Side@Ways: Mobile margins and the dynamics of communication, Leiden/Cameroon: ASC/Langaa, 1-16.
  • de Bruijn, M.E. & W. G. Nkwi (2013), ‘Life is so Summarised: Society’s Memory in the Digital Age in Africa’ in: M. Wallace, T. Barringer, J. Damen (eds.), Dis/Connects. African Studies in the Digital Age, Leiden: Brill, 179-193.


  • de Bruijn M.E. & Bouju J. (2014), Ordinary Violence in Africa, Brill, Africa series. Leiden: Brill.
  • de Bruijn, M.E., I. Brinkman & F. Nyamnjoh (eds.) (2013), Side@Ways: mobile margins and the dynamics of communication in Africa, Leiden/Cameroon: ASC/Langaa.

Papers (selection):

  • de Bruijn, M. E., ‘Digitalisation and the Field of African Studies’. Keynote (Carl Schlettwein lecture) ECAS 2017, 28 June 2017.
  • de Bruijn, M. E., ‘New Information and Communication Technologies and ‘New’ Stratifications of Society: Evidence from Chad, Mali and Cameroon’, Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, München, Germany, 26 May 2016.
  • de Bruijn, M. E., ‘Connecting Political Voices in Authoritarian Africa: Resistance in the Era of (new) ICTs’, A-ASIA Inaugural Conference: AFRICA-ASIA: A New Axis of Knowledge, Accra, Ghana, 24-26 September 2015.
  • Conflict Mobiles’ in connected Central Africa. Biographical narratives, ICTs, and the interpretation of conflict’, Mirjam De Bruijn, Jonna Both, Adam Amadou & Catharina Wilson, PACSA, Frankfurt, Germany, 3 September 2015.
  • de Bruijn, M. E., ‘The Chadian Protest Music Scene in the Wake of the Impossible “Chadian Spring””. Paper presented together with Didier Lalaye at ECAS (European Conference on African Studies), 8-10 July 2015.


Mirjam de Bruijn – Counter Voices in Africa

Blog for The Broker: ICTs and the emergence of international protest in Central Africa

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