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Liv Tønnessen

Director of Center on Law and Social Transformation and Senior Researcher

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Political scientist researching gender and politics in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

Tønnessen has a PhD in comparative politics from the University of Bergen. She has been a guest researcher at University of Texas at Austin, Ahfad University for Women in Sudan, and at the Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. She has also worked at the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Damascus, Syria.

Tønnessen has published extensively on topics related to gender and politics, including women and peacebuilding,  sexual and reproductive rights and health (Abortion, FGM and LGBTQ+), women's political  and economic empowerment, Islamic law reform, social movements (women's and feminist movements, queer movements, and Islamic movements), and gendered violence. 

Tønnessen has a track record from the Middle East and Northern Africa with long term stays in Sudan, Lebanon and Syria. She has specialized in Sudanese politics for two decades. Tønnessen has conducted  extensive fieldworks in the country and she has been a lecturer at Ahfad University for Women and held numerous lectures for and at regional universities in the west, east and south of Sudan. She has a wide network of contacts within Sudanese academia, politics and civil society. Tønnessen's work has involved long-term collaboration with several research institutions and research partners in Sudan. 

Tønnessen has a track record heading research projects funded by the Norwegian Research Council, Carnegie Foundation and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She is currently involved in the research project Rights Activism under Political Uncertainty (RightAct) ( headed by Leo Arriola (Berkely/CMI). She is also heading the Sudan-Norway Academic Cooperation ( (SNAC) project funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Khartoum.

Tønnessen is currently co-Director of the CMI-University of Bergen Centre on Law and Social Transformation ( together with Siri Gloppen. She has previously been Research Director at CMI (2017-2021), Founder and coordinator of the Gender Politics research group (2010-2014), Member of the CMI board (2015-2017), Head of the Norwegian Association of Researcher at CMI (2013-2015), Board member of the program for development research at Swedish Research Council (2016-2019) , Board Member of the Nordic Middle East Society (2010-2016), and Founding member of the Norwegian Center for Humanitarian Studies which is a collaboration between CMI, PRIO and NUPI (2012-2016).

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