Photo of Marjoke Oosterom, Post Doctoral Researcher with the Participation, Power and Social Change research team

Marjoke Oosterom - Research Fellow

Power and Popular Politics; Conflict and Violence


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I am a Research Fellow with a background in political science and development studies. I am interested in how citizens can collaborate with, negotiate or challenge the political institutions in their lives, and hold them to account.

Much of my work concentrates on democratic governance and citizen participation in (post)conflict settings, where the context is unfavourable to citizen action and the space for civil society is limited. I believe we can find pathways to peace and democracy if we are committed to understanding what institutions and forms of leadership are legitimate in the eyes of citizens.

My current research is on gender, agency and violence in fragile South Sudan, and the role of state and non-state authorities in security. This is carried out in partnership with Voice for Change to inform their work on the implementation of UN Resolution 1325 in South Sudan. I also carry out research on leadership among young women in Zimbabwe, in collaboration with Research and Advocacy Unit.

I use qualitative approaches and participatory research methods, and I have a particular interest in visual methods such as photo stories. I have developed collaborative research programmes with civil society organisations, designed to inform their programmes and strategies. Aware of their organisational realities and the political environment in which they operate I use applied research strategies, techniques for learning and reflection, and we co-produce multimedia outputs that can be used in their other programmes.

With other colleagues I was involved in various studies and trainings for donors and civil society organisations, such as workshops in power analysis, studies on the political space for CSOs in conflict-affected and transition countries, and the monitoring and evaluation of programmes in support of democratic governance. This includes work for Oxfam GB, Trócaire, Christian Aid, the Swiss Development Cooperation, and Voice for Change.

I joined IDS in 2009 for my PhD research, working closely with Rosemary McGee and John Gaventa as my supervisors. My research focused on the effects of violent conflict and forced displacement on citizenship and citizen participation in the Acholi region of northern Uganda. This research was part of a project on citizen engagement in (post)conflict settings, funded by Hivos Knowledge Programmes and ICCO. For this project I produced the documentary film The Governance Gap, based on the research findings. Other outputs included working papers and blogs, and multimedia activities in response to the Kony2012 campaign film.

This Collaboration with the Quality Assurance (QA) Programme of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is now in its second phase, running until December 2017. The aim of the program is to improve the quality and effectiveness of SDC processes and operations focused on poverty.

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This project aims to build an evidence base that maps the role young people – particularly young women – have played in contributing to processes that sought to or did address fragility as well as examine gaps and challenges with the ultimate aim of increasing the voice and participation of young people around the world.

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The aim of the Rapid Response Briefings (RRB) series is to support governments and development agencies in responding quickly to rapidly emerging phenomena and unexpected global events and understanding the impact they may have on development policy, practice and outcomes.

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The Power, Violence, Citizenship and Agency (PVCA) project is an action research project designed by researchers at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and carried out with a number of institutional partners.

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This collaboration between IDS and the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) aims to bring appropriate participatory methods into quality assurance within SDC. It will also bring new levels of rigour to the principles of participation, poverty orientation and empowerment in the work of SDC and its partners.

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IDS publications on international development research

Gendered (in)security in South Sudan: masculinities and hybrid governance in Imatong state

Peacebuilding (2017)

Since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005 ended the civil war between north and south Sudan, many citizens of what is now South Sudan have increasingly felt left behind by their government. More details


Failing Young People? Addressing the Supply-side Bias and Individualisation in Youth Employment Programming

IDS Evidence Report 216 (2017)

International development actors increasingly focus on youth employment as a key development challenge. More details

This is the front cover to IDS Bulletin 475, 'Power, Poverty and Inequality'.

Power, Poverty and Inequality

IDS Bulletin 47.5 (2016)

Ten years on from the landmark 2006 edition of the IDS Bulletin that brought us the ‘powercube’ – a practical approach to power analysis that offered a way of confronting its complexity – we return to the question of how to analyse and act on power in development. More details


The Violent Politics of Informal Work, and How Young People Navigate Them: A Conceptual Framework

IDS Evidence Report 198 (2016)

This report explores the linkages between young people’s economic engagement and their social and political engagement in contexts of violence in Africa. More details

image for non-ids publications

Internal Displacement, the Camp and the Construction of Citizenship: Perspectives from Northern Uganda

Journal of Refugee Studies 2016 (2016)

Having no opportunities for meaningful citizen engagement further erodes a sense of citizenship. More details

Thematic Expertise:
Participatory methodologies; Politics and Power; Youth Employment and Politics.

Related Programmes and Centres:
Policy Anticipation Response and Evaluation.

Geographic Expertise:
Sub Saharan Africa; Mongolia; South Sudan; Uganda; Zimbabwe.