Elizabeth Stites

Elizabeth StitesResearch Director and Associate Professor
Associate Research Professor, The Fletcher School at Tufts University
Research Associate Professor, Friedman School of Nutrition

Working with Feinstein Since: 2002
Based in: Budapest, Hungary and South Dartmouth, Massachusetts

Elizabeth Stites directs Feinstein’s Research Program on Conflict and Livelihoods, focused on the effects of conflict and violence on civilian livelihoods. She is particularly interested in how different members within a household make changes to their livelihoods in times of conflict or crisis, and also how violence and livelihood strategies can reinforce each other. On the policy level she examines the effects of humanitarian, development, and military policies on livelihoods, security, and gender roles. Her field work aims to improve the effectiveness of international and national policies through evidence-based research reflecting the lived experiences of local communities. She aims to understand the challenges and hopes that inform people’s daily decision making, and strives to ensure that local people’s voices and experiences are heard in contexts in which they are often invisible. She has worked in multiple countries in sub-Saharan Africa, in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Nepal and on the Syria crisis.

Prior to joining Feinstein, Elizabeth worked as a consultant to UN organizations, academic centers, and international non-profits. She lived in South Africa for four years in the 1990s, where she researched post-apartheid land restitution and worked closely with families, community groups, government agencies, and non-profit organizations.

Elizabeth holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University, an M.A. from the University of Cape Town (South Africa), and an M.A.L.D. and a Ph.D. from The Fletcher School at Tufts University.

Research Interests:
  • Intra-household livelihood adaptations in times of stress
  • Early marriage in settings of conflict and displacement
  • Gender and livelihoods among pastoral and agropastoral populations
Regional Focus:
  • Eastern and southern Africa
Courses Taught:
  • Gender, Culture, and Conflict in Complex Emergencies (NUTR 222/DHP D232), Fall Term
  • Gender and Human Security in Transitional States and Societies (DHP D231), Spring Term
Most Cited Books and Articles:
  • Howe, K., Stites, E.Partners under Pressure: Humanitarian Action for the Syria Crisis.” Disasters (January 2019) 43(1): 3-23.  
  • Stites, E., Howe, K., “From the Border to the Bedroom: Changing Conflict Dynamics in Karamoja, Uganda Journal of Modern African Studies (March 2019) 57(1): 137-159.
  • Stites, E. “‘The only place to do this is in town:’ Experiences of rural-urban migration in northern Karamoja, Uganda.” Nomadic Peoples (2020) 24: 32-55.
  • Stites, Elizabeth and Anastasia Marshak. “Who are the Lonetia? Findings from southern Karamoja, Uganda.” Journal of Modern African Studies (2016) 54: 237-262.
Most Recent External Publications:
  • Stites, E., Krystalli, R., Humphrey, A., Gathuoy, N.M. “Cattle to cash: Changing marriage practices among displaced people in Bentiu, South Sudan.” Women’s Studies International Forum (2022) 94. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wsif.2022.102632
  • Seaman, M., Stites, E., “Family Matters: Older Refugee Minors in Vienna and Factors for Resiliency.” Journal of Refugee Studies (June 2022) 35 (2): 988-1010.
  • Iyer, P., Stites, E. “Trauma, loss and other psychosocial drivers of excessive alcohol consumption in Karamoja, Uganda.” Pastoralism (2021) 11 (30).
  • Stites, E., Humphrey, A., Krystalli, R. “Social Connections and Displacement from South Sudan to Uganda: Towards a relational understanding of survival during conflict.” Journal of Refugee Studies (September 2021) 34 (3): 2720–2739.

News Items

Kimberly Howe and Elizabeth Stites discuss life after early marriage in displacement
April 3, 2023

Since 2019, Kimberly Howe and Elizabeth Stites have been working on a cohort study that provides a rare and holistic view into the lives of female youth living in displacement…

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The Resurgence of Conflict in Karamoja, Uganda – KRSU publishes two new reports
November 1, 2022

After a period of relative peace and stability, violent livestock raiding and other forms of conflict are once again driving a food security crisis in Karamoja in the far northeast…

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Feinstein Research Projects

Apolou: Understanding the poor’s interactions with market systems and international programming

Feinstein’s work as part of the Apolou project seeks to understand the impacts over time of a shift to an increasingly cash-based economy on different wealth, livelihood, and demographic groups.

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Early Marriage in Conflict and Displacement

Our latest research shows that we do not know enough about early marriage to design programs and policies that effectively support female youth in the ways that they need. This study is generating the evidence humanitarians need.

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Feinstein Publications

Education and Female Youth in Displacement in South Sudan and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq
cover of report: Education and Female Youth in Dsiplacement in South Sudan and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

This paper examines the role of marital status and motherhood on schooling experience and educational interruption, attainment, and aspirations in South Sudan and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

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Experiences of young women in four districts of Karamoja, Uganda: 2018-2022
Thumbnail of brief cover: Experiences of young women in four districts of Karamoja, Uganda

This brief investigates the perceptions and experiences of young women related to wealth, livelihoods, and aspirations in Uganda’s Karamoja sub-region.

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