Mirjam Hirzel

Mirjam Hirzel

Mirjam Hirzel
Mirjam Hirzel
ETH Zurich
International Conflict Research
IFW D 46.1
Haldeneggsteig 4
8092 Zurich, Switzerland
phone: +41 44 632 58 34
e-mail: mirjam.hirzel AT gess.ethz.ch

Mirjam is a PhD student in the International Conflict Research group, led by Prof. Lars-Erik Cederman, at ETH Zurich. She holds a Master’s degree in Comparative and International Studies from ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich (2012), and a Bachelor’s degree in International Development and Food Policy from University College Cork, Ireland (2009).

In her recently completed dissertation, Mirjam analyzed the process of state expansion into regions within its territory where it was previously near-to absent and the responses thereto by affected indigenous communities. The thesis draws on primary data gathered during several months of fieldwork in India, including in the conflict-affected regions of Chhattisgarh. There, Mirjam conducted over 60 in-depth interviews with members and leaders of the local tribal community, state officials and representatives of civil society-based organizations, as well as with experts, including academic scholars and journalists. Based on this data, her dissertation opens new fronts in theories on state expansion, contributing important insights with regard to patterns of indigenous agency vis-à-vis the state.

Mirjam’s PhD research was carried out within the framework of the R4D (Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development) project on ‘Ethnic Power Relations and Conflict in Fragile States’, co-funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. As part of her engagement in this project, Mirjam is managing the cooperation with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

As part of her Bachelor studies, Mirjam spent several months in the Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria, followed by repeated independent visits. Having engaged in several community-based projects in the camps, she later also supported the Sahrawi delegation in the UN Human Rights Council. Mirjam is fluent in English and German, proficient in Spanish, conversant with French and knows a little bit of Arabic and Hindi.


Awasthi, M. and M. Hirzel. (2016). “Ethnic power relations in India: the relevance of local politics and the nuances of historically disadvantaged identity.” EPR Working Paper Series No. 2.

FitzGibbon, M. and M. Hirzel (2010). “The Sahrawis: living the consequences of Earth’s longest military wall.” In Besosa, M., Ragaven, C., Loree Allen, S. and O’Halloran, A. (eds.), Walls, fences, borders and boundaries – essays on social exclusion, inclusion and integration. IA: Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.

Curriculum Vitae