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Matthew Pflaum


Sahel Research Group

Personal Website

Curriculum Vita

State of Origin: Florida

Degree Program: PhD

Entered Program: Fall 2019

Expected Graduation: Spring 2023

Dissertation Topic: Examining the factors of geography and fragmentation on pastoralist mobility, violence, and joining VEO’s in Mali’s inner delta.

Research Interests: Borders and migration in Sahel; conflict and violence; mobility of pastoralists and nomads; states’ governance and interventions in conflict

Research Statement: Matthew is interested in the role of nomadic and pastoralist groups in violence and violent extremist organizations in the Sahel. Given the increasing violence in certain regions, pastoralists play a critical role in understanding violence and achieving security. He hopes to focus on the factors contributing to joining VEO’s and other movements for different groups. There is a critical need to assess what differences there are between pastoralists and other groups who join VEO’s (and why). Are they more or less violent? What are the reasons they join these groups? How does their leadership of such VEO’s differ from more established groups? In addition, and like many existing projects, he is also interested in the issues of borders, governance, migration, markets, states, ethnicity, language, and religion. Finally, he is interested in the concepts of “fractionalization” and “fragmentation” and how culture and origin relate to future outcomes. One major question is: Is fractionalism a trait or quality that can be carried and transmitted from group or tribe to social movements?

Adviser: Dr. Olivier Walther

Educational Background

  • M.Sc. in African Studies and International Development, University of Edinburgh, 2017
  • M.P.H. in Global Health and Infectious Disease, Emory University, 2008
  • B.A. in Physical Anthropology, Grinnell College, 2004
  • B.A. in Biology, Grinnell College, 2004

Personal statement: I’m a big football fan (favorite team: Bayern Munich) and love to both play and watch! Also love traveling (at about 65 countries now), trekking/mountain climbing, sailing, and windsurfing.