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PhD Students 2016-17

Maimuna Mohamud

Maimuna MohamudCambridge Trust Africa Scholarship

Citizens of the Third Republic? Gendered Performances of Citizenship in the Somali Peace Processes  

Supervisor: Dr Devon Curtis (Department of Politics and International Studies)


This project is fundamentally concerned with the construction of political identity and social formations in the context of post-independence Somalia. Drawing on a feminist methodology which highlights the ways in which political identities and processes are built—reinforce—and subvert gendered hierarchies and asymmetries, I argue that ideas and practices of citizenship in Somalia have undergone a transformation in recent decades. More precisely, this thesis puts forward the notion that it has not just been war, famine and state collapse that have moulded the ways in which Somalis think about political belonging and categories of inclusion and participation in the national body politic, but that some of the externally-funded peace processes too have had a significant, hitherto underestimated impact on how citizenship is to be constituted and to be expressed. In doing so and emphasising the role of political novices and civil society -especially women and diaspora groups-, this dissertation rethinks the determinants of citizenship (re)construction and studies how political roles, rights and responsibilities are altered over time, erasing some inequities and exclusionary practices, while also erecting new barriers and (gendered) expectations. Furthermore, my work contributes to the extant literature on peace-building, nation-building and war which is preoccupied with material concerns of who gets what and which strongly highlights the pivotal role of militarised elites and foreign experts, at the expense of investigating the importance of political identity in post-conflict reconstruction and the agency of non-state, unarmed political actors in impacting ideas and practices of belonging.

Peer reviewed publications:

Mohamud, Maimuna, and Harry Verhoeven. "Re-Engineering the State, Awakening the Nation: Dams, Islamist Modernity and Nationalist Politics in Sudan." Water Alternatives 9.2 (2016): 182-202.

Mohamud, Maimuna. 2016. “Women, Piety and Political Representation: Islamic Discourses in Contemporary Somalia” in Hawwa: Journal of Women of the Middle East and the Islamic World, (Vol. 14, Issue 2, pp. 166-186).

Lena Moore

Lena Moore

Human, Transhuman, Posthuman: The United States Military and the End of Vulnerability

Supervisor: Dr Lauren Wilcox (University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies)


My doctoral research focuses on ways in which, in a United States military context, automation, 'precision,' and healing technologies that appear to protect against war-related risk and suffering produce 'human,' 'transhuman,' and/or 'posthuman' subjects through differential assignations of vulnerability and invulnerability. This research is grounded in case studies of 'precision' warfare, the exceptionalization of Special Operations forces, and militarized/military 'healing' technologies. Through examinations of these particular cases, and by situating the US military's 'posthuman project' within a greater system of white supremacist patriarchy, this research reveals ways in which new military technologies and the production of 'posthuman' subjects may reproduce insecurities and exclusionary logics globally. Further, in making that which the state seeks to erase or render invisible the object of inquiry, this project aims to challenge dominant narratives of a civilizing military transhumanism that signals the emergence of a 'safer,' more ethical way of war.

Academic Background:

BA in History, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2012

MSc in Transnational Security Studies, Royal Holloway, University of London, 2015

Research Interests:

Militarism; posthumanism; race and racism; state and structural violence; military masculinities; artificial intelligence.

Sharmila Parmanand

Sharmila Parmanand 2Gates Cambridge International Scholarship

Critical inquiry into Anti-Trafficking discourse in the Philippines

Supervisor: Dr Tomas Larsson, Department of Politics and International Studies


My research focuses on the anti-human trafficking ecosystem in the Philippines. In particular, I look closely at the policy-making process, the relationships among international funders, the state, and civil society actors, the knowledge claims made about women in vulnerable employment situations and how these claims are negotiated and produced, and finally, the effects of interventions such as raids and rescue operations on their target populations, especially sex workers. With my work, I hope to give primacy to the experiences of individuals directly affected by these interventions and contribute to the ongoing conversation about how best to uphold their agency and human rights.


Gates Scholar (

M.A. Gender and Development, University of Melbourne (Australian Leadership Award Scholarship)

 B.A. Political Science, Major in Global Politics, with distinction, Ateneo de Manila University (Academic Scholarship)

Publications and Conferences:

Parmanand Sharmila (2014), ‘Mapping the path to Philippine reproductive rights legislation: Signs of progress amidst obstacles’, Social Transformations: Journal of the Global South, Vol 2, No 1, pp 61–80.

Microcredit and motherhood: An inquiry into the effect of Filipino women’s engagement with microcredit on their household relations presented at the Biennial Australian Women’s and Gender Studies Conference (University of New South Wales, 2012) and the Australian Sociological Association Annual Conference (University of Queensland, 2012).

Willing victims and benevolent headhunters: An inquiry into the dynamics of human trafficking presented at the 8th International Conference on Philippine Studies (Manila, July 2008).

The woman who cried rape: Nicole, discourses of nationalism, and the politics of resistance presented at the Philippine Political Science Association International Conference (April 2007).

Other interests:

I am also an international debating consultant and I have worked as a debate coach or trainer in 30 countries, including Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Palestine.  


Farhana Rahman

Farhana Rahman 2Cambridge International Trust and Murray Edwards Scholarship

Rickety Boats to Refuge(e): Gender, Identity, and Everyday Negotiations of Rohingya Refugee Women

Supervisor: Dr Manali Desai (Department of Sociology)




Through feminist ethnographic research, my doctoral research seeks to explore how forced migration and mass exodus of the Rohingya community to the refugee camps outside of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh has transformed Rohingya gender relations and roles in displacement – specifically, how forced migration has affected the gendered subjectivities and lived experiences of Rohingya refugee women. The theoretical framework of this project lies at the junction of gender studies, anthropology, and studies in forced migration, and will engage with issues such as the body, gender-based violence, culture, victimhood and agency, and social transformation.


I was born in Bangladesh, and raised in Zambia and Canada. I have several years of experience in the gender and development sector, working internationally for various development organizations in the global south. In 2012, I co-founded a non-profit organization – Silkpath Relief Organization ( – that strives to provide humanitarian assistance to individuals and families ravaged and impoverished by calamities, particularly to those that fall outside of traditional streams of international aid – in Afghanistan and on the Rohingya refugee crisis. Since 2014, I have been a consultant and trainer providing technical expertise on gender equality, social policy, education, and legal analysis for various UN Women, UNDP, and USAID projects in South Asia and Africa. In 2015, I helped establish the first academic program in gender studies in Afghanistan, based at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul, where I also taught in the area of sociology of gender. I have lived in and worked on projects in a number of countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Germany, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Uganda, and Zambia.

Academic Background:

MPhil (Distinction) in Multi-disciplinary Gender Studies, University of Cambridge (2013-2014)

Honours BA in Peace and Conflict Studies, International Relations, Arabic (Language Citation), University of Toronto (2007-2011)


Rahman, F. (2019). “‘I Find Comfort Here’: Rohingya Women and Taleems in Bangladesh’s Refugee Camps.” Journal of Refugee Studies. [Published Online First: July 2019].

Rahman, F. (forthcoming). “Survival as Resistance: Rohingya Refugee Women’s Narratives of Life, Loss, and Hope.” In: Bonnerjee, S. and Maqeda, E. (eds.), Strident Voices, Dissenting Bodies: Subaltern Women’s Narratives. [Publisher TBA].

Rahman, F. (forthcoming). “Women’s Worlds: Vignettes and Memories of Afghanistan.” In: Mendes, P. and Tomás, A. (eds.), Frontier Ethnographies. New York: Berghahn.

Rahman, F. (forthcoming). “Trajectories of Gender Inequality, Identity, and Violent Extremism in Rural Bangladesh.” In: Constructions of Masculinity and Femininity. UN Women and UNDP.

Rahman, F. (2018). “Narratives of Agency: Women, Islam, and the Politics of Economic Participation in Afghanistan.” Journal of International Women’s Studies. 19(3): 60-70.

Rahman, F. (2018). “The Merits and Limits of a Gendered Epistemology: Muslim Women and the Politics of Knowledge Production.” Journal of International Women’s Studies. 19(1): 20-33. [Shortlisted in the Feminist and Women’s Studies Association, UK & Ireland, ‘2017 Student Essay Competition’].

Rahman, F. (2017). “Farkhunda’s Legacy: Gender, Identity, and Shifting Societal Narratives in Afghanistan.” Feminist Review. 117(1): 178-185.

Rahman, F. (2017). “Rights, Roles, and Rural Realities: A Case Study on the Effects of Fatwa Decrees Against Women in Rural Bangladesh.” Muslim World Journal of Human Rights. 14(1): 1-27. [Special Issue on ‘Gender and Islam’].

Hakan Sandal-Wilson

Hakan Sandal

The Kurdish LGBTI+ Movement: Strategies and Tactics towards Radical Democracy

Supervisor: Dr Ayse Zarakol (Department of Politics and International Studies)



My doctoral research focuses on the intersection of ethnic, gender, and sexual identities during times of war and conflict. Studying how queer activists situate themselves in ethnic and democracy struggles presents a holistic understanding of identity construction processes and resistance practices. Exploring the boundaries and formation of identities in the Kurdish queer context, and studying the Kurdish struggle and the queer struggle together, within the framework of resistance and conflict, will contribute to gender studies, queer politics, and conflict studies, and will engender new debates on radical queer movements and their emancipatory potential. The research will eventually not only shed light on a queer struggle in the Middle East context, but also provide an alternative reading and historicisation of the Kurdish movement and Turkey, while providing insights into creative transformative resistance practices.

Other Activities:

I convene a seminar series entitled ‘Methods in Question: Epistemologies of Gender and Sexuality’ ( at the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies, where scholars from all levels discuss the research methods they employ in their research. In addition to my scholarly work, I am a committee member of Amnesty UK’s LGBTI Network as Campaigns Officer and lead for the East Anglia Region. I previously served in the committees of the Cambridge University Student Union LGBT+ campaign as Black and Minority Ethnic representative and the Cambridge University Mindfulness Society. I write about Kurdish and LGBTI+ politics in various newspapers and journals, including Jadaliyya and openDemocracy.

Research Interests:

My research interests, in addition to Gender and Sexuality Studies, include Critical Theory, Political Sociology, and Diaspora Studies.

Peer-review Publications:

  • ‘Radical Queer Epistemic Network: Kurdish Diaspora, Futurity, and Sexual Politics’ (Migration Letters, January 2020)
  •  ‘Decolonial Queer Politics and LGBT+ Activism in Romania and Turkey’ (co-authored with Dr Bogdan Popa) (Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics, June 2019)

Conference and seminar papers (selected)

2018 April: ‘Queer Imagination of the Middle East: Kurdish Diaspora, Sexuality and Politics’, Interdisciplinary Conference on Kurdish Politics and Societies, Yale University, New Haven, United States.

2017 June: ‘Queer Imagination of Kurdistan: Diaspora, Gender Identity and Belonging’, International Kurdish Migration Conference, Middlesex University, London, United Kingdom.

2014: ‘Clash of Emotions - The Case of Roboskî’, Turkish Migration Conference 2014, Regents University, London, United Kingdom.

2013: ‘The Construction of the Sanctity of Death - Roboskî Case’, Turkey's Human Rights Agenda Conference, Istanbul, Turkey.

Research Reports:

2016 March: “The two faces of the destruction of Sur: Urban Transformation and Siege in Diyarbakir”, ZAN Institute for Social, Political and Economic Studies.

Teaching and Student Supervision (University of Cambridge):

  • ‘Politics and Gender’, Department of Politics and International Studies
  • ‘Politics of the Middle East’, Department of Politics and International Studies
  • ‘Global Social Problems and Dynamics of Resistance’, Department of Sociology: The ‘Social Movements and Contentious Politics’ module
  • ‘Social Problems in Modern Britain’, Department of Sociology: The ‘Sexual Inequalities and the Lived Experience of LGBT People in Britain’ module

Invited Talks (selected):

October 2019: ‘Report as Method: Intersectionality and the Queer Future of the University’ at the ‘Out at Cambridge’ Report Launch, lgbtQ+@cam, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.

October 2019: ‘Queer Movements and Radical Democracy’, Festival of Ideas, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.

May 2018: ‘The LGBTI+ ban in Turkey and the rise of new forms of resistance’, Centre for Feminist Research, Goldsmiths – University of London, United Kingdom.

March 2018: ‘Queer and Kurdish Press Under Siege in Turkey’, Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.

September 2017: ‘States of Emergency in the Middle East: Turkey’s Kurdish Question and the LGBTI+ Struggle’, Amnesty International Cambridge City Group, United Kingdom.

Online Publications (selected):

2017: “Redirecting the Colonial Gaze: ‘Decolonising Queer Liberation’ or Disciplining the Kurds?”, openDemocracy,

2017: ‘Queering Turkey’s Referendum’, Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative,

2016: ‘The Turkish State of Emergency and LGBTI+ Kurds’, Jadaliyya,

Eddie Wei

Mr Eddie WeiCSC Cambridge International Trust Scholarship

Judges’ Gender and Sentencing in China: A Socio-Legal Perspective

Supervisor: Professor Loraine Gelsthorpe (Institute of Criminology)


Despite frequently voiced concerns about discrimination in the criminal justice system there has been surprisingly little new research during the last decade into the way women are sentenced. My thesis seeks to fill that gap: it examines statistical data on Chinese men and women offenders from eight provinces; and it also looks at the factors (blameworthiness, dangerousness, and practical constraints) judges identify as influences on their decision-making. The aim, therefore, is to describe how judges at three main levels (district, intermediate and high courts) set about taking account of substantive differences in men’s and women’s lives and their perceptions of ‘real justice’ for women. 

Research Interests: Feminist Legal Theory, Critical Legal Studies, Law and Development

Professional Affiliations: All China Lawyers Association, since 2008; Law and Society Association, since 2013


2019 Jiang-Land-Wang Outstanding Student Paper Award, Association of Chinese Criminology and Criminal Justice

2019 Best Graduate Student Paper Award, Division on Women and Crime, American Society of Criminology

2017 Fitzwilliam College Graduate Scholarship & Senior Scholarship


Gendered Justice in China: Victim-Offender Mediation as the ‘Different Voice’ of Female Judges, International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 2020, forthcoming

Judges’ Gender and Sentencing in China: An Empirical Inquiry, Feminist Criminology, 2019, forthcoming.

Unequal Treatment in Pretrial Detention in China, British Journal of Criminology, Volume 57, Issue 6, 2017

Does Gender Play a Role in Divorce Mediation? – Working Pattern of Female Judges in China, Asian Journal of Women’s Studies, Vol. 19 No. 3, 2013

Conference Presentations:

Inaugural Conference for Junior Researchers: On Law and (In)formality, Stanford Law School, 2014.

Graduate Students Workshop, Law and Society Association, 2014.

8th Cornell Inter-University Graduate Student Conference, Cornell Law School, 2012.  

Elizabeth Yarrow

Elizabeth Yarrow

Gendered bodies: institutions, sex binarism, and the experiences of gender minority youth within health and education systems

Supervisor: Dr Robbie Duschinsky (Department of Public Health and Primary Care)






My doctoral research focuses on gender variance in childhood and young adulthood in the UK. Through examining the experience of trans, intersex, non-binary and gender non-conforming children and youth in their interactions with schools and health systems, my work explores and theorises the relationships between gendered categories, institutions, power and identity. I ask, how categories of ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ organise aspects of identity during childhood, how gendered embodiment is regulated through institutional practices, and what happens when the embodied lives of gender diverse children come into confrontation with specific ideological and discursive constructions of ‘childhood’, ‘sex’, ‘gender’ and ‘sexuality’, embedded within the practices and logics of public institutions. Questions explored during the research will include (amongst others):

 - How do gender diverse youth experience education and health systems and services in the UK?

- How do these experiences influence aspects of young people’s wellbeing?

- What practical changes, and alternative conceptions of gender, might, if embedded within institutional structures, lead to better outcomes for gender diverse youth?"


I have an MA in Social and Political Sciences from the University of Cambridge. Since graduating in 2007, I have been working in development research, evaluation and programming, undertaking social research projects for UN agencies and NGOs internationally. My recent research has particularly focused on exploring the intersections of childhood, gender, sexuality and violence, and young people’s access to sexual and reproductive rights, in a diversity of countries around the world, including India, Myanmar, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka and the UK. 


Peer Review articles and book chapters:

Anderson, K., Apland, K., Yarrow, E., ‘Unaccompanied and unprotected: the systemic vulnerability of migrant children in South Africa’, 25 Years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child – Conference Book, Tom Liefaar and Julia Sloth-Nielsen (eds), Leiden University Press, (forthcoming) 2015.

Hamilton, C., Yarrow, E., ‘Preventing and Addressing Child Offending: Restorative Justice and Family Focused Programming’ in Women and Children as Victims and Offenders: Background – Prevention – Reintegration. Suggestions for Succeeding Generations, Helmut Kury, Slawomir Redo and Evelyn Shea (eds), Springer, (forthcoming) 2016 edition.

Yarrow, E.& al., ‘Can a restrictive law serve a protective purpose? The impact of age restrictive laws on young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health rights’, Reproductive Health Matters, RHM44-001_002, December 2014.

Research reports:

Yarrow, E., ‘Research on the Causes and Consequences of Young People’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Related Behaviours in Northern Shan, Myanmar’, Coram International, 2016

Yarrow, E. et al. ‘Getting the Evidence: Asia Child Marriage Initiative’, Plan Asia, 2015

Anderson, K., Apland, K., Yarrow, E., ‘An Unenforceable Law: An analysis of policy, practice and political narratives shaping the detention and protection of migrant women and children in South Africa’, Coram Children’s Legal Centre, June 2015

Yarrow, E., ‘Young People’s Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Services in Senegal’ International Planned Parenthood Federation, 2014;

Apland, K., Hamilton, C., Blitz, B., Lagaay, M., Lakshman, R., Yarrow, E., ‘Birth Registration and Children’s Rights: A Complex Story’, Plan International, 2014

Yarrow, E., Hamilton, C., Watkins, J., ‘An Assessment to Identify Entry Point into Child Protection within Early Childhood Development in Malawi’ UNICEF, 2012 2012