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

Elizabeth Stites publishes in Women’s Studies International Forum
September 1, 2022

Elizabeth Stites and co-authors Roxani Krystalli, Alex Humphrey, and Nyuon Moses Gathuoy published their article “Cattle to cash: Changing marriage practices among displaced people in Bentiu, South Sudan” in Women’s…

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Feinstein faculty share insight into war in Ukraine through many channels
July 27, 2022

War in the Ukraine broke out in February 2022. Feinstein International Center faculty and researchers have been sharing what they know about the crisis and wider implications through a variety…

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Feinstein Research Projects

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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Recovering in Sudan for Improved Nutrition and Growth (RISING II)

The RISING II operational research analyzes the informal social safety nets—how they function, who benefits from them, and how external support interacts with them—in multiple program areas in Darfur, Sudan.

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Feinstein Publications

Circumscribed Lives: Separated, Divorced, and Widowed Female Youth in South Sudan and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq
Cover of Research Report

Very little is known about the experiences of female youth who marry under 18 and later become separated, divorced, or widowed. This briefing paper underscores the unique vulnerabilities and challenges that these youth face in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) and South Sudan.

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The Cost of Being Female: Mental Health and Psychosocial Support of Displaced Female Youth in South Sudan and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq
Cover of report on MHPSS and child marriage

This briefing paper outlines the situation of displaced female youth—unmarried, married, divorced, widowed—from a mental health and psychosocial functioning (MHPSS) lens.

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