Image of Marjoke Oosterom

Marjoke Oosterom

Research Fellow

Marjoke Oosterom is a Research Fellow in the Power and Popular Research Cluster at IDS. She holds a PhD from IDS and has a background in comparative politics and development studies. Her research concentrates on how experiences of violence and conflict affect forms of agency, citizenship, and everyday politics and governance. Marjoke has developed specific expertise on how young people participate in politics through formal and informal channels and how they respond to insecurity and violence in non-violent ways. Apart from research, she has been involved in advisory services for policy makers and international NGOs working on democratic governance, citizen participation, and youth and peacebuilding.

After Marjoke finished her PhD on how citizenship and identity had evolved in post-conflict northern Uganda, she continued focusing her research on the effects of different forms of violence on citizenship and agency. Her research asks how experiences of violence shape people’s agency to engage with the state and other political actors and in forms of collective action. She has also looked at citizenship and agency among internally displaced persons (IDPs) in conflict settings and their agency in relation to humanitarian actors. Violent settings are often unfavourable to citizen action and the political space for civil society is limited. This research will help to find pathways to peace and democracy by trying to understand what kind of institutions and forms of leadership are legitimate in the eyes of people and by learning from people’s everyday negotiations with them.

As a member of the Youth Research group at IDS, Marjoke has developed research projects on youth, citizenship and politics, which contributes to debates on the role of young men and women in post-conflict environments. While popular assumptions hold that especially unemployed and ‘idle’ youth are at risk of participating in violence, the majority of young people develop non-violent strategies to cope with adversity and are active citizens. Her current research on youth extends to the politics of employment and informal labour and how youth navigate the formal and informal rules and intermediaries that govern local economies.

Marjoke uses qualitative approaches and likes to use participatory, visual methods like Photo Voice. She has facilitated youth-led research, and in her research with young people she often uses creative methods such as storytelling, arts and theatre. Previous research projects include studies on gender and masculinities in South Sudan, youth experiences of citizenship in Zimbabwe, and on everyday forms of peacebuilding and politics by youth in Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Myanmar.

Many of her research projects are conducted in collaboration with civil society actors, designed to inform their programmes and strategies. For instance, the project ‘Power, Violence, Citizenship and Agency’ in South Sudan was carried out in partnership with Voice for Change to inform their activities related to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 UNSCR 2250 on Women, Peace and Security; also a study for Plan International UK helped to inform advocacy regarding UNSCR 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security. Aware of their organisational realities and the political environment in which they operate she uses applied research strategies, techniques for learning and reflection and project outputs often include multimedia outputs that enhance research uptake and impact. See for instance the documentary ‘The Governance Gap’ on citizenship in the Acholi region, post-conflict northern Uganda.

With other colleagues she has been involved in various studies and training for donors and civil society organisations, such as workshops in power analysis, studies on the political space for CSOs in conflict-affected and transitional countries, and the monitoring and evaluation of programmes in support of democratic governance.

For PhD applicants

Marjoke welcomes PhD applications on the following topics:

Effects of violence and violent conflict on citizenship, agency, and governance (including in non-conventional conflict settings like informal urban settlements and in post-conflict settings).

Youth, peacebuilding, security, the role of young people in post-conflict settings, including their economic and political agency.

Gender and conflict.

Marjoke Oosterom’s recent work


Youth Employment and the Private Sector in Africa

Published by IDS

Globally, governments, development agencies, and inter-governmental institutions have invested heavily in skills-building interventions seeking to enhance the employability of youths. However, policy actors are becoming more aware of the shortcomings of skills-building interventions, and...

28 November 2018

Working Paper

Energy Protests in Fragile Settings: The Unruly Politics of Provisions in Egypt, Myanmar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe, 2007–2017

Published by IDS

How do popular protests about the basics of everyday life, specifically about energy, come about in settings where political authority is fragmented and conflict and repression common? How do state and political actors respond to protests which disrupt social and economic life, and undermine...

Image of Naomi Hossain
Naomi Hossain & 5 others

1 June 2018


Youth Employment & Citizenship: Problematising Theories of Change

Published by Institute of Development Studies

In recent years, funding for youth employment interventions has rapidly increased. However, there is limited to no evidence that interventions that build skills and knowledge lead to sustained employment and increased earnings. There is also no evidence that youth employment interventions have...

1 April 2018