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Team > Dr. Kamal Donko

Kamal Donko Photo Dr. Kamal Donko
Kamal Donko Photo

Personal information

Since January 2020, I defended my doctoral thesis on Territory, Identity and politics in a frontier zone: the case of central Benin. Referring to the ongoing debate on the political geography of agricultural colonization related to territory and issues of belonging in sub-Saharan Africa, the study project was to examine the current logic of identity representations, institutional arrangements and socio-political innovations. It was concerned with the process in which local mechanisms of land control and new types of relationships between the stakeholders promote hybrid forms of local politics and how they contribute to the instability of political structures in central Benin. One of the outcomes of this research is that it has brought to the political geography debate a new perspective, which sees territory as a vehicle of local domination and political control.

After having accomplished this important academic step, I am involved as Postdoctoral researcher affiliated to LASDEL-Parakou, Benin, under the Research Section “Mobilities” of the Cluster of Excellence "Africa Multiple: reconfiguring African Studies". The research project is on Migration control, forced immobility and violent mobilization in the border triangle of Burkina Faso, Benin and Niger. The overall objective of this research project is to understand the relations between forced immobility and violence in these borderlands by questioning conventional narratives on border control and African migration as a binary relation between Africa and Europe.

Summary of the Proposed Project

The externalized European ‘migration management’ in West Africa has technologically modernised and militarized border posts threatening visa-free travel, freedom of settlement and borderland economies in parts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). At the same time, one can observe intensified and asymmetrical violent conflict in some of these borderlands. In this project we aim to understand to what extent forced immobility relates to violent mobilization and constitutes an unexpected result of European migration control on the African continent. In an interdisciplinary team we aim to conduct a multi-sited ethnography at the border triangle of Burkina Faso, Benin and Niger studying the various practices and ramifications of movement and stasis and their relations. We study migration control, forced immobility and violent mobilization as a paradigmatic case of multiplicity that will allow us to understand some consequences of how Europe is situated in Africa and, in turn, of how Africa and Africans are situated in the world.

Preliminary outcomes and current activities

Based on the empirical data collected so fare (between February to May 2020), we are currently working on two articles as followed:

  • Migration control. forced immobility and violent mobilization at the border between Burkina Faso and Niger (2020)
  • Migration control and border struggles in the Sahel: the case of Kantchari/Makalondi (Burkina-Faso/Niger) (2020)

Due to the lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we were interested in the multiple stakes around this sudden and new mobility regime that affects the local economy of Parakou in terms of restrictions on different scales (ok: ECOWAS, national, communal). An article will be published as our contribution to the inter-and transdisciplinary book « Covid-19 en Afrique : Les multiples dimensions des soins et de santé ».



Postdoctoral researcher (Research Section “Mobilities”) affiliated to LASDEL-Parakou Benin, Cluster of Excellence, University of Bayreuth

Title: “Migration control, forced immobility and violent mobilization in the border triangle of Burkina Faso, Benin and Niger”

Doctoral thesis (Political Geography), University of Bayreuth, Germany

Topic: “Territory, Identity and politics in the frontier zone of central Benin” with Prof.Dr. Martin Doevenspeck as Supervisor

2009 - 2011

Master of Arts degree in Culture and Environment in Africa (CEA), University of Cologne, Germany

Topic: "Conflict over land allotment in peri-urban areas of Parakou, Benin" with Prof. Dr. Miachael Bollig as Supervisor.

2006 - 2009

As Research Assistant in IMPETUS – Integratives Management-Projekt für einen effizienten und tragfähigen Umgang mit Süßwasser in Westafrika concerning following topics:
Society and Health; Food Security; Water management and Institutional Change in inland-valleys of the communes of the Upper Ouémé catchment.

2006 - 2008

Bachelor Degree in Sociology. University d'Abomey-calavi, Benin.

Topic: "Gestion des infrastructures hydrauliques dans l'arrondissement de Komi-Guéa" (Commune de N'dali) with Prof. Dr. Nassirou BAKO-ARIFARI


As Research assistant in "Cabinet Géo-Assistant" owned by Prof. Eustache Bonaventure BOKONON-GANTA concerning the monographic synthesis about the risky areas of Atakora-Donga; local programs development on the Environmental management and adjustment in Bembéréké, Malanville, Tchatchou (communes of northern Benin) and Water and reassuring of the substance


Diploma CPJA (Master) Option: Community Development. INJEPS, Université d'Abomey-calavi.
Topic : Gestion participative des forages dans la Commune de Banikoara - Porto-Novo : INJEPS, 2005 .- - 76 p., with Prof. Eustache Bonaventure BOKONON-GANTA as supervisor

 .- https://koha.uac.bj/cgi-bin/koha/opac-ISBDdetail.pl?biblionumber=48668


  • Participation in the African Good Governance Workshops on:
  • “Intra-State conflict”, Bonn 1-5 April;
  • “Democracy”, Berlin 25-28 June;
  • “Europe and Africa: Regional Integration and Interregional Relations”, Brussels 15-17 November.
  • Participation in the 59th Annual Meeting of the ASA. “Imagining Africa at the Centre: Bridging Scholarship, Policy, and Representation in African Studies”, December 1-3, 2016 Washington Marriott Wardman Park, Washington, DC.

Paper presented: “Territorialisation and Elections: Migration, Land and Politics in Benin Republic” on the panel entitled, “Race, Ethnicity and the Politics of African Immigrants and Immigrants in Africa.”

  • Participation in the 18th International Conference on Environment and Engineering,

Paper presented: Territorialisation and Elections: Land and Politics in Benin.

  • Participation in the International Colloquium on : « Entre ordre et instabilité : les défis des insécurités dans les Afriques en transition », Université d´Abomey-Calavi 10-12 mars.

Paper presented: Enjeux autour de la territorialisation en contexte électoral au Bénin: Le foncier comme instrument de lutte politique.

  • Participation in a Graduate School Workshop on: Making a successful doctorate right from the beginning, Bayreuth 12th November.
  • Participation in the seminar-workshop “water resources and adaptation to climate change” from 7th to 8th April 2011 in Cotonou, Benin by CePED & DAAD.
  • Participation in training session with “land management actors” from 29th to 31st March 2011 in Parakou by Millenium Challenge Account (MCA), Benin.
  • Participation in Conference “Global Change in Africa from 2nd to 4th June 2009 in Cologne, Germany.
  • Participation in the International Conference on “Concepts and tools on sustainable management of water held from 11th to 12th march, 2009 in Cotonou by IMPETUS Project.
  • Training “Junior Chamber International” (JCI) in Cotonou, Benin.
  • “Entrepreneurial training”. Ministry of Youth, Sport and Leisure, Porto-Novo-Benin.
  • “Training in accounting and finance” in Parakou, Benin by Agence Béninoise pour l’Environnement (ABE).
  • Participation in Training program of youth leaders by Foundation Konrad Adenauer Stiftung/Institut Kilimandjaro.

Selected publications

  • Doevenspeck, Martin; Hollstegge, Julian; Donko, Kamal, 2019.  Migrationskontrolle in West Africa. In: Bayreuther Kontaktstudium Geographie, Band 10, S.37-48. 
  • Donko, Kamal ; Doevenspeck, Martin 2018. Néo-toponymes dans les zones de colonisation agricole du centre-Bénin : enjeux spatio-politiques. In: Annales de la FASHS. Vol.1, pp.4-25. (ISSN: 1840-8583). 

Kamal Donko Photo

Dr. Kamal Donko
Postdoctoral Researcher, Research Section “Mobilities”

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