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Alice Mpofu-Coles

Photograph of Alice Mpofu-Coles

Areas of interest

  • Refugees
  • Young people
  • Gender issues
  • Social justice
  • Race and ethnicity

Research projects

Identity and transnational activities for young Zimbabwean in the UK

The project, which I started in 2017, is looking at young Zimbabweans aged between 18-30 years currently living in the UK, regarding their identity, transnational practices and participation.

Young people who migrated with their families as refugees or on a working visa (often termed the 1.5 generation) and international students form an essential part of this migration from Zimbabwe to the UK. The project used feminist qualitative methodology to provide an insight into the migratory journeys of 44 young people and 5 youth workers to understand and highlight contemporary immigration issues and experiences of belonging.

Using migration and transnationalism as a lens, the research devotes attention to how education, work, relationships, race, social networks and cultural practices shape the identities of the young people and ascertain their participation in the UK and the notion of home.

As migration laws change in the Global North, this project is important in looking at how young people who are immigrants struggle to come to terms with thriving and the notion of difference. Since starting my PhD, I have increased my interest in black feminism, race and equality including the spaces occupied by black people in society.

Funder: University of Reading, Local Fees Only Scholarship




I hold a BA in Social Work, MA in International Relations - Contemporary Diplomacy, Conflict Resolution, Origins and Causes of War. I studied Formed Migration at the International Summer School at Oxford University.

My long work career includes working as a trainer, civil servant, a diplomat with postings to Belgrade and Maputo, then as a Social Worker in the UK before starting my PhD in 2017. For the past 15 years, I advocate and portray a more positive image of refugees, particularly women, by participating in numerous European projects, writing, speaking engagements, interviews, and I have taken part in BBC television/radio programmes.

I further my activism by being actively involved as a member and trustee in numerous charitable organisations. This has widened my knowledge on government policies, human rights, public campaigns, community engagement and how advocacy helps to change services to the most vulnerable in society.

I have received The Alice Driver's Award for Inspirational Women in Reading, an Honorary Masters of Universities for services to communities, education and civil services from the Open University and in 1996 I was presented with an award by the then President of Mozambique while working as a diplomat in Maputo. I have written a book on the struggles of having breast cancer called Dear God from Your Poached Egg Breast.