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Prof. Dr. Lena Kroeker

Flight, Migration and Social Mobility (deputy professor)

Institute of Cultural Studies


Tel.: +49 89 6004-2407


Dr. Lena Kroeker holds a master’s degree in Historical Anthropology, African Linguistics, and Sociology from Goethe University/Frankfurt. Besides, she graduated in an interdisciplinary study program on Technology and International Development at the Technical University of Darmstadt.

Lena Kroeker has previously worked with different governmental and non-governmental development aid agencies, including the Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ, now GIZ) and the Centre for International Migration and Development (CIM). Her work focused on health policy, in particular HIV/AIDS, and gender in Africa.

From 2008 to 2011, Lena Kroeker was a junior fellow at the Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS) at the University of Bayreuth. She completed a PhD in Social Anthropology in 2012. From 2013 to 2018, she was a research fellow at the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies, a research program debating ‘Future Africa and Beyond – Visions in Time’. From 2011 to 2013 and 2018 to 2020, Kroeker worked as an assistant professor at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Bayreuth.

Kroeker has conducted ethnographic research in Mali, Lesotho, and Kenya about a variety of topics. Her scientific interests include the rise of the African middle classes, social mobility, social welfare, medical anthropology (HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, fertility), and dealings with uncertainty. Her current research focuses on the social security of the Kenyan middle classes. The habilitation project concerns the uncertainties of the Kenyan middle class and the fear of falling into poverty.

From August 2020 onwards, Lena Kroeker represents the Professor of Flight, Migration, and Social Mobility at the Universität der Bundeswehr München.


Research Foci

  • The rise of the African middle classes
  • Medical anthropology in Africa, esp. HIV/AIDS, pregnancy, birth, familial care, and health insurance coverage
  • African Future(s) and concepts of time
  • Anthropology of dealings with uncertain situations


Current Research

Lena Kroeker’s ongoing research project is titled “(In)Security of the Kenyan Middle Classes: Social Mobility and the Fear of Falling” (DFG-funding). The project connects two debates, namely the current debate about middle classes in Africa, and the debate about social protection in the global South. So far, the debate about the African middle classes is concerned with their social rise but it lacks ethnographic detail on how the middle classes protect themselves against social descent. Lena Kroeker’s project aims to close this gap and analyzes how the middle classes try to sustain their advanced standard of living (Sen 1987) in the face of volatile economic and political circumstances of African environment.

In connection with this research project, Lena Kroeker (together with Tabea Scharrer and David O’Kane) edited a volume with the title “Middle Classes in Africa – Changing Lives and Conceptual Challenges” (Palgrave, 2018).



Kroeker, L.: (2020) Moving to retain Class Status. Spatial Mobility of older middle-class People in Kenya. In: Coe, C., & J. Pauli (Eds.): Migration and Social Class in Africa: Class-Making Projects in Translocal Social Fields. Special issue in Africa Today, pp. 137-158.

Middle Classes in Africa: Changing Lives and Conceptual Challenges. Frontiers of Globalization, London: Palgrave Macmillan (2018) (ed. with David O'Kane and Tabea Scharrer).

Uncertainty & Future(s). Tsantsa - Zeitschrift der Schweizerischen Ethnologischen Gesellschaft 22 (2017). (ed. with Valerie Hänsch und Silke Oldenburg).

In between Life and Death - Decision-making of HIV+ mothers in Lesotho, Dissertation in Social Anthropology, Beiträge zur Afrikaforschung, Münster: LIT-Verlag (2015)

Meidung als Alltagshandlung in langfristigen Abhängigkeitsbeziehungen - Schwangere Frauen mit HIV/AIDS und ihre Kommunikation in asymmetrischen Machtverhältnissen. Zeitschrift für Ethnologie 139 (2014), 179–198.

From Global Policies to Local Practices: Behavioural Advice for the Prevention of Mother-to-Child-Transmission of HIV. Sociologus. Journal for Empirical Social Anthropology 62, 1, (2012), 47-71.