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Emilie Lund Mortensen

Assistant Professor

Emilie Lund Mortensen


I am an anthropologist and ethnographer with a regional specialisation in the Middle East and a theoretical interest in the anthropological field of morality and ethics as well as migration and refugee studies.

In my work, I have specifically combined an ethnographic focus on experiences of exile among young displaced Syrian men in Amman with a phenomenological approach to care, community and morality, which have allowed me to take seriously the tensions in and of social life. I have, for example, proposed the notion of care-full involvements to grabble with and capture the ambiguous ways of being with one another among people in precarious situations. 

Currently, I am part of the research project “Reorienting Integration”, funded by the Velux Foundation’s HumPraxsis program. This means that it is an applied research project, seeking, among other things, to improve the conditions for newly arrived Congolese UN quota refugees in Denmark. The project is collaboration between the Department of Anthropology at Aarhus University, the Danish Refugee Council and VIVE, the Danish Center for Social Science Research.

The ambition is twofold: 1) To develop the “family-to-family” model as a means to improve the process of resettlement to Denmark, and 2) to develop a new theoretical framework that can accommodate the process of ‘reorienting integration’.

In my work, I specifically focus on experiences of renegotiating gendered subjectivity among the Congolese women and mothers in the context of resettlement.


PhD dissertation

Being Care-ful in Exile: Friendship, love and longing among Syrian men in Amman

Adding to a growing interest in alternative ways to ethnographically and anthropologically explore ethical questions in human life, this dissertation attends to the ‘with’ of being among Syrian men in exile in Amman. The work is based on a total of 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork, undertaken between February 2016 and February 2018, among urban middleclass youth, who was forced to seek refuge in Jordan during 2012 and 2013. The five chapters of the dissertation interrogate particular intimate and interpersonal relations among friends, lovers and Syrians in Amman, together demonstrating how experiences of political unrest, war and flight expose life as inherently precarious and dependent on others with whom one is both at one and at odds. Thus care-fully struggling with others to reinhabit good lives in the everyday of exile, new imaginaries of possible futures take shape in Amman, reorienting the young men towards other ways of leading life as a man.


Supervisor: Maria E. Louw (AU)
Co-supervisor: Dawn Chatty (Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford), Noa Vaisman (AU), Rasmus Dyring (AU)

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