Ella Williams


Magdalen College

Thesis Title:

Girls’ Education and Empowerment in the High Atlas Mountains


Dr Michael Willis


Ella is a DPhil student in Middle Eastern Studies at Magdalen College. Her research focusses on girls’ education and empowerment in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, where she was an English teacher from 2019-2020. Through her ethnographic fieldwork, she problematises the neoliberal education-equals-empowerment equation and aims to challenge Eurocentric notions that empowerment unfolds along a single, linear pathway. Ella is currently living in rural Morocco for her fieldwork.

From 2021-2022 she was a visiting scholar at Harvard University, USA as a Kennedy Scholar. Since September 2023, she has been involved in coordinating the UK relief efforts on the ground in response to the earthquake of 8th September, whose epicenter was located in her research fieldsite.

She speaks English, French, Spanish, Arabic and Tachelhit (Berber).

Educational Background: 

MA French and Arabic, St Andrews University (2018) and MSc in Modern Middle Eastern Studies, Oxford University (2019)

Research Interests:

North Africa, Gender Norms, International Development, Education, Social Change, Indigenous Rights, Gender Equity, Social Change