Dereje has published extensively on a wide range of topics from ethnicity and conflict; borders and borderlands; religion and politics; pastoralism; the political economy of development, to migration and transnationalism. He holds a doctorate in social anthropology from Martin-Luther University in Halle, Germany. He is an Associate Professor at Addis Ababa University, and a member of the Advisory Board of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC). He has consulted for international organizations such as the World Bank; DFID, UNDP, UNICEF, and EU-TF/REF. He is the author several books, including Playing different games: the paradox of the identification strategies of the Anuak and Nuer in the Gambella region of Ethiopia (New York and London: Berghahn Books, 2011), and co-editor of several books including Borders and Borderlands as Resources in the Horn of Africa (London: James Currey, 2010), and, Ethiopia in the Wake of Political Reform (Los Angeles: Tsehai Publishers, 2020). He has also authored over fifteen articles in peer-reviewed journals and over thirty chapters for edited volumes.