skip to content

Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)


Marthe Achtnich is Assistant Professor in Development Studies at the Centre of Development Studies in the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS).
Before starting at the University of Cambridge, Marthe was a Fellow by Examination in Anthropology (Junior Research Fellow, JRF) at Magdalen College, University of Oxford, and previously also a Wiener-Anspach Postdoctoral Fellow in Anthropology at the Laboratoire d’Anthropologie des Mondes Contemporains (LAMC), Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), in Brussels, Belgium.
Marthe holds a DPhil (PhD) in Anthropology and an MPhil in Migration Studies, both from the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford.


Marthe is an anthropologist working on migration and mobility. Her research centres around the lived experiences, governance and economies of migration, with a focus on migrants’ journeys, particularly to and through Libya, the Mediterranean and Europe. She has conducted multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork with migrants in Libya and in Malta.
Marthe’s book ‘Mobility Economies in Europe’s Borderlands: Migrants’ Journeys through Libya and the Mediterranean’ was published with Cambridge University Press in 2023. Bringing the perspectives of migrants to the fore, the book traces the journeys of sub-Saharan migrants along one of the world’s most dangerous migration routes: through the Sahara Desert, Libya, and by boat to Malta in Europe. Demonstrating how these migrant journeys become sources of profit for various actors, the book prompts a rethinking of mobile life and economic practices under contemporary capitalism.
Marthe’s most recent work engages with the concept of the ‘bioeconomy’ in relation to mobility, examining the intersections between migration, economy and health.
Marthe has also published her work in American Ethnologist, Cultural Anthropology, Economy and Society and Geopolitics.


Key publications: 

Achtnich, Marthe 2023. Mobility Economies in Europe’s Borderlands: Migrants’ Journeys through Libya and the Mediterranean. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Achtnich, Marthe 2023. Migration, Mobility, and the Plantationocene. Theorizing the Contemporary, Fieldsights, January 24.
Barua, Maan, Ibáñez Martín, Rebeca and Achtnich, Marthe 2023. Introduction: Plantationocene. Theorizing the Contemporary, Fieldsights, January 24.
Achtnich, Marthe 2022. Waiting to Move On: Migration, Borderwork and Mobility Economies in Libya. Geopolitics 27(5), pp. 1376-1389.
Achtnich, Marthe 2022. Mobile Livings: On the Bioeconomies of Mobility. Cultural Anthropology 37(1), pp. 1-8.
Achtnich, Marthe 2022. Bioeconomy and Migrants’ Lives in Libya. Cultural Anthropology 37(1), pp. 9–15.
Achtnich, Marthe 2022. Accumulation by Immobilization: Migration, Mobility and Money in Libya. Economy and Society 51(1), pp. 95-115.
Achtnich, Marthe 2021. Bordering Practices: Migrants, Mobility and Affect in Libya. American Ethnologist 48(3), pp. 314-326.
Achtnich, Marthe 2021. Immobility and Crisis: Rethinking Migrants’ Journeys through Libya to Europe. Libyan Studies 52, pp. 154-158.
Achtnich, Marthe 2020. Shifting Shelters: Migrants, Mobility and the Making of Open Centres in Malta. In: Scott-Smith, Tom & Breeze, Mark E. (eds.) Structures of Protection? Rethinking Refugee Shelter, pp. 45-55. Oxford, New York: Berghahn Books.

Assistant Professor in Development Studies
University Teaching Officer
Fellow, Churchill College
marthe achtnich

Contact Details

Email address: