Refuge in a Moving World
The ‘Refuge in a Moving World’ network – an initiative of the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) in collaboration with the Institute of Global Prosperity (IGP), and led by the MRU's Co-Director, Dr Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh – brings together experts from across the UCL who work on displacement, forced migration, exile and conflict. It is grounded on the understanding that cross-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary research is essential to develop a full understanding of, and a means of responding to, the human, material and representational effects of intersecting processes of mass displacement around the world.
The network organises research-led interdisciplinary events, including seminar series, conferences, workshops and public debates, to help us better understand the history, causes, experiences, representations and implications of ongoing shifts in politics, people and perceptions. See here for a summary of our activities in 2015-2016.
This site offers a snapshot of some of the world-leading research taking place across UCL into these complex questions in the form of a Directory of UCL scholars who are members of Refuge in a Moving World, and of relevant research projects across UCL. As the Directory is a work in progress, if you would like to join the network or include your project, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Refuge in a Moving World Members
Dr. Rob Aldridge is an NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer at the UCL-Institute of Health Informatics. Rob’s current research focuses on infectious disease epidemiology and the health inequalities faced by vulnerable, and often invisible populations, including migrants and refugees. Rob’s unique training in engineering, medicine and epidemiology allow him to carry out research using a range of methods including mathematical modelling of infectious disease, observational, interventional and cost effectiveness studies. He is a member of the UCL–Lancet Commission on Migration and Health. You can follow him on @.
Giovanna Astolfo is Teaching Fellow at the UCL-Development Planning Unit. Her research focuses on informal urbanisms, and bordering practices in the urban context. She is currently part of a interdisciplinary DPU research project on 'Refugee Cities. The actual space of migration'. Further research interests are related to the ethics of design, especially the social role of architects and the legacy of the community architecture movement.
Tom Bailey is Leverhulme Artist in Residence at UCL-Geography/Migration Research Unit. Tom is a theatre maker and director. Creating work through his company, The Mechanical Animal Corporation, he has developed work across the UK, and internationally in Egypt and Finland. He read English at UCL (2007). In 2016 he was making theatre with refugees in the Good Chance theatre in the Calais 'Jungle'. During his residency with the Migration Research Unit Tom will be researching and developing work that explores migration through live performance.
Dr. Camillo Boano is Senior Lecturer at UCL-Development Planning Unit. He is an architect and urbanist with interests in humanitarian urbanism, environmental forced migration, temporary shelters, post-disaster housing reconstruction, and communication in emergencies. He leads the DPU's new project, Refugee Cities: the Actual Spaces of Migration. You can follow him @
Dr Beverley Butler is a Reader in Cultural Heritage at UCL Institute of Archaeology. Her key interests include: Critical Heritage perspectives, ‘Heritage Wellbeing’ and the transformative ‘efficacies of heritage’ particularly in contexts of marginalisation, displacement, conflict and extremis. Beverley has on-going long-term fieldwork research in the Middle East – notably in Egypt, Palestine and Jordan. Her long-standing research collaboration with Dr Fatima Al-Nammari (Petra University Jordan) includes: Dislocated Identities and ‘Non-places’ – Heritage, Place-making and Wellbeing in Refugee Camps (2011- ongoing). Beverley is Co-Investigator on a new joint ESRC/AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund research project with Professor Helen Chatterjee in collaboration with the Helen Bamber Centre which looks at the role of creative arts and cultural activities in improving health and wellbeing.
Dr. Estella Carpi is Research Associate at UCL-Development Planning Unit and Humanitarian Affairs Advisor at Save the Children UK. She is a social anthropologist who is coordinating a new project, Human, Economic, and Social Flows Beyond Crisis at UCL. Her research interests lie primarily in humanitarianism, refugee migration, welfare, and politics of aid. You can follow her on www.mabisir.wordpress.com and @estycrp.
Dr. Elaine Chase is Senior Lecturer in Education, Health Promotion and International Development in the Department of Education, Practice and Society at UCL-Institute of Education. Her research interests include the intersection between migration and wellbeing outcomes. Her current research investigates the outcomes for independent migrant and refugee children as they make the transition to ‘adulthood’.
Dr. Sarah Crafter is Senior Research Officer in the Thomas Coram Research Institute at UCL-IOE. Sarah’s academic interests lie in the area of migration, diversity and the development of identities. By background she is a cultural-developmental psychologist whose work is grounded in sociocultural theory, transitions, critical or contested ideas of ‘normative’ development and cultural identity development. She has a longstanding interest in working with child language who are children and young people who translate and interpreter for family members after migration to a new country. Recently she has been working on research ('New families') that seeks to explore the care of children, by other children when they are unaccompanied refugee minors. This work involves exploring how they navigate care and asylum systems.
Dr. Delan Devakumar is a Clinical Lecturer in the UCL Institute for Global Health. He is a medical doctor with experience in clinical paediatrics and public health. His research is on maternal and child health and is part of the Lancet Commission on Migration and Health.
Dr. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh is Director of the Refuge in a Moving World network and is Co-Director of the Migration Research Unit at the Department of Geography. Elena specialises in forced migration and conflict-induced displacement, with a particular thematic interest in gender, generation and religion, and a regional focus on the Middle East and North Africa. She is currently the PI of two major projects: Local Community Experiences of Displacement from Syria (funded by the AHRC-ESRC) and Analysing South-South Humanitarian Responses to Displacement from Syria: Views from Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey (funded by the European Research Council). You can follow her on @RefugeeHosts and @RefugeMvingWrld.
Dr. Adele Galipo is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the UCL-Institute of Education whose research interests include transnationalism, diasporas and migrants return; urban diversity; development and humanitarian interventions; and nation-building processes. Her regional focus is the Horn of Africa, particularly the Somali region.
Dr Philippa Hetherington is Lecturer in Modern Eurasian History at UCL- SSEES. She researches gender, migration and law in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Philippa is currently completing a book on the emergence of 'trafficking in women' as a social problem and legal category at the fin-de-siècle, with a focus on the region considered the primary source country of trafficked women in this period, the Russian empire. She is also the Co-Investigator (with Dr. Julia Laite, Birkbeck) on the three-year AHRC project 'Trafficking, Smuggling and Illicit Migration in Gendered and Historical Perspective.' You can follow her on @philippahether
Dr. Katherine Ibbett is Reader in Early Modern Studies in UCL-French/SELCS. She works on early modern France, and especially on the affective undertow of religious difference, including the Huguenot diaspora; Katherine is also interested in the cultural contributions (translations, teaching, writing) of Huguenot refugees in London in the seventeenth and eighteenth century and in the way refugees are figured in texts of this period. You can follow her on @
Prof. Ben Kaplan is Professor of Dutch History in the Department of History. He specialises in the history of relations between religious groups in early modern Europe – in essence, the history of religious toleration and conflict in Europe in the 16th-18th centuries. The history of early modern religious refugees is one important aspect of this topic.
Dr Marta Niccolai is Teaching Fellow at the Department of Italian. Her research focuses on theatre events performed in war territories, primarily the Middle East, and in Europe, that explore human rights and refugees’ rights. She analyses the methodology applied and how the actor’s body and voice is used to encourage a deeper understanding between geographically and culturally different people who are brought closer by forced migration.
Dr Miriam Orcutt is a medical doctor and academic researcher currently coordinating the UCL-Lancet Commission for Migration and Health; she is a Research Associate at UCL’s Institute of Global Health. Her background is in medical anthropology and her current research explores refugee health, including through research with Syrian refugees in informal camps in Northern Greece. You can follow her on @miriamorcutt.
Dr. Thibaut Raboin is Teaching Fellow at the Department of French. He is the author of Discourses on LGBT asylum in the UK: constructing a queer haven, published by Manchester University Press (2016), and has authored articles on LGBT asylum and homonationalism. His interdisciplinary research is based on the critical discourse analysis of French and UK public discourses, in particular in relation to race, sexuality, gender and migration, and the emergence and configuration of social problems in public arenas. Alongside his work on the discourses of forced migration, his current research concerns the expression of social suffering on the radio, with an attention to listening as both a mode of governmentality and a critical act.
Dr. Rachel Rosen is Lecturer in Childhood in the Department of Social Science at UCL-Institute of Education. She is currently examining the care of children, by children, on migration journeys, as well as how these caring practices are taken into account (or not) in children's efforts to settle and claim asylum in the UK. With her colleague Dr Sarah Crafter, Rachel received seed funding from the UCL Global Engagement Fund to develop this new research area.
Dr. Tatiana Thieme is Lecturer in Human Geography at UCL-Department of Geography. Her research interests engage with different aspects of austerity and makeshift urbanism, focusing on alternative cultural and economic geographies related to the politics of urban poverty, informal work, and everyday strategies in contexts of precarious urban environments. Building on her recent ethnographic work in Nairobi’s informal settlements and on-going work in London with offenders nearing the end of their prison sentence, Tatiana’s new British Academy-funded project - Temporary migrants or new European citizens? Geographies of integration and response between ‘camps’ and the city - brings together her research interests in informality, labour limbo, and social navigation of uncertain urban life. More information about her new project is included below.
Dr Ralph Wilde (UCL-Laws) is an expert in public international law, and also has an interest in the interface between international law and related academic disciplines, including international relations and legal and political theory. His appointments include being Senior Research Associate at the Refugee Law Initiative of the Human Rights Consortium of the University of London School of Advanced Studies. He is a long-standing member of the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM), having served as Rapporteur for one of the IASFM’s conferences. His research on migration has included work on UNHCR administration of camps housing refugees and IDPs, and the extraterritorial application of human rights and refugee law in the migration context, from sea-rescues to the extraterritorial posting of border officials. His ongoing work on extraterritoriality is as PI of the project ‘human rights beyond borders’, funded by an ERC Starting Grant. More information, including publications, on Ralph is available [here] and on the human rights beyond borders project [see below and here]. You can follow him on @ralphwilde.
Directory of Refugee-related Research Projects Across UCL
Analysing South-South Humanitarian Responses to Displacement from Syria (2017-2022)
- Through fieldwork in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, this ERC-funded project examines how, why and with what effect Southern actors - states, civil society networks, and refugees themselves - have responded to displacement from Syria. The project purposefully centralise refugees’ own experiences of and perspectives on these Southern-led initiatives. Indeed, by bringing refugees’ voices to the forefront, the project aims to shed a unique light on refugees’ understandings of humanitarianism, and the extent to which they consider that diverse Southern-led responses to conflict-induced displacement can or should be conceptualised as ‘humanitarian’ programmes. In so doing, the project makes a particularly significant contribution to debates regarding the desirability and/or tensions of ‘alternative’ forms of humanitarianism which have, until now, been monopolised by Northern academic and policy perspectives.
- The project is led by Dr Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh (UCL-Geography, MRU)
- Affiliation: UCL-Department of Geography.
- The aim of the BUDDcamp is to investigate the multiple housing pathway of migrants. Through the use of different methodological instruments, this research tries to gather the complexity concerning the dimension of home in migrants’ experience. The fieldwork, neighborhoods in Brescia, Italy, are chosen for two main reasons: in the one hand they are characterized by a considerable presence of migrants at different stages of their migration experience, on the other hand they are interested by urban renovation programs and social interventions promoted by private and public actors. Individual experiences are thus investigated, alongside with spatial phenomena, policies and interventions. Achieving these different fields of interest implied the utilization of life story interviews, ethnographic observation, key informants interviews and participatory maps. This last technique constitutes a methodological innovation. In addition the research aims to reflect on the efficacy and limits of housing and immigration policies drawing on evidence based data.
- This is an annual design exercise which is part of the MSc Building and Urban Design in Development
- Affiliation: UCL-Development Planning Unit
- Stories of displaced people, migration and immigration continue to occupy headline news. Huge efforts are being made by displaced people and associated relief agencies to help deal with the many challenges of displacement and migration and many of these efforts involve the use of arts, heritage and cultural activities. The impact of these programmes on participants' health and wellbeing has often been overlooked in relation to their overall health and how such cultural programmes contribute to recovery, adjustment and other challenges associated with displacement, such as employability. This project - funded by the ESRC-AHRC under the GCRF - aims to better understand the role of creative arts and cultural activities in improving health and wellbeing. The project will also explore the potential for the arts to play a central role in improving issues associated with resettlement, employability and learning new skills, and consider how this could feed into relevant policies such as those related to immigration.
- The project team is led by Prof. Helen Chatterjee (Department of Genetics, Environment and Evolution, UCL), with co-investigators Dr. Fatima Al-Nammari (Department of Architecture, University of Petra), Dr. Beverley Butler (Institute of Archaeology, UCL) and Dr. Linda Thomson (UCL Culture).
- Affiliation: Department of Genetics, Environment and Evolution, UCL; Institute of Archeology, UCL; UCL-Culture; Univeristy of Petra; in collaboration with the Helen Bamber Foundation in London and the Women’s Programme Centre at Talbieh Refugee Camp in Jordan.
Dislocated Identities and ‘Non-places’ – Heritage, Place-making and Wellbeing in Refugee Camps (2011- ongoing):
- This project examines the use of heritage as a resource by which to engage with dislocated identities and strategies of transformation/ empowerment. This project is based on ground-breaking ethnographic research undertaken in five Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan and Zaatari Syrian refugee camp also in Jordan. Key outcomes include a collection of oral histories and the creation of Community Archives in these locations.
- The project team is led by Dr. Beverley Butler (Institute of Archaeology, UCL) with co-investigator Dr. Fatima Al-Nammari (Department of Architecture, University of Petra, Jordan)
- Affiliation: Institute of Archeology, UCL; Univeristy of Petra.
- As protraction of crises increasingly becomes a long term drive for urban change and a challenge for city governance and infrastructures, this research project focuses on “urban-itarian” settings: that is the interactional moment between the urban and the humanitarian, when cities have become home to humanitarian actors and de facto refugees, and urban and humanitarian infrastructures provide and negotiate basic services and livelihoods. The project investigates how human, social, and economic relations, exchange and consumption experiences can better inform humanitarian policies and practices, both of which regulate access and relations to services, labour, and resources.
- The project team is composed by Dr. Estella Carpi (jointly based at DPU and HAT), Dr. Andrea Rigon (DPU), Dr. Camillo Boano (DPU), and Dr. Cassidy Johnson (DPU), and Fernando Espada (HAT), Sophie Dicker (HAT), Dr. Jessica Field (HAT).
- Affiliation: This project has been developed by The Bartlett’s Development Planning Unit, University College London (DPU) and the Humanitarian Affairs Team of Save the Children UK (HAT).
- States have an impact on human rights not only in their own territories. Also, often there is an extraterritorial impact—on people in the rest of the world. From drone strikes to economic sanctions, states affect human rights beyond their borders. For civil and political rights, relevant extraterritorial activity includes war, occupation, anti-migration and anti-piracy initiatives at sea, sanctions, extraordinary rendition, and the operation of extraterritorial detention and interrogation sites housing combatants and migrants, including refugees. This ERC-funded interdisciplinary project aims to provide a critical evaluation of the law and policy of whether and to what extent international human rights law is and should be applicable extraterritorially. It covers both civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development.
- This project team is led by Dr. Ralph Wilde (UCL-Laws), with Dr. Karen Da Costa (UCL-Laws)
- Affiliation: UCL-Faculty of Laws
- Website: https://www.laws.ucl.ac.uk/research/centres-institutes/human-rights-beyond-borders/
Local Community Experiences Of Displacement From Syria: Views from Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey (Refugee Hosts: 2016-2020)
- This AHRC-ESRC funded project aims to improve our understanding of the challenges and opportunities that arise in local responses to displacement, both for refugees from Syria and for the members of the communities that are hosting them in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Through interdisciplinary and participatory research in and with 9 local communities in the Middle East, this project fills a major evidence gap about the roles played by local communities – including those that explicitly or implicitly identify with and are motivated by faith – in supporting, and/or undermining, people affected by conflict and displacement: refugees and hosts alike.
- The project is led by Dr. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh (UCL-Geography) in collaboration with Prof. Alastair Ager (Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh and Columbia University), Dr. Anna Rowlands (Durham University) and Prof. Lyndsey Stonebridge (University of East Anglia).
- Affiliation: UCL-Geography; Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh; Durham University; University of East Anglia; in partnership with PEN International; the Joint Learning Initiative on Local Faith Communities, Refugees and Forced Migration Hub; and in collaboration with Stories in Transit and the Humanitarian Affairs Team of Save the Children UK (HAT).
- Webpage and Twitter: www.refugeehosts.org and @RefugeeHosts
- This research project consists of a multi-scale analysis of the spatial, social and economic impacts of migration in the urban context, trying to merge transdisciplinary approaches including data-driven mapping and ethnographical research. This will help to create an original composite of spatial visualizations through different media channels, shared and disseminated through an interactive, digital platform. By identifying the overlooked issues surrounding the refugee crisis in European cities and challenging the dominant narratives, the platform will provide a reliable overlap of data, curated to better interpret and cope with the intensifying impact of migration on cities.
- The project's working team is led by Dr. Camillo Boano (DPU) and is composed by Dr. Kayvan Karimi (Space Syntax Laboratory), Dr. Ed Manley (CASA), Dr Falli Palaiologou (Space Syntax Laboratory), Dr. Giovanna Astolfo (DPU) and Ricardo Marten (DPU).
- Affiliation: UC-Development Planning Unit; Space Syntax Laboratory; CASA
- Twitter: @BrmgRefugee
Refugee Health: Syrian narratives of flight and health encounters
- This project has involved research in informal refugee camps in Northern Greece in 2015-2016, where Syrian refugees’ narratives of flight and health encounters were gathered through focus groups and interviews. Individual narratives of flight from within Syria, across the Turkish border, by boat across the Mediterranean to Greece and subsequently to the border of Greece/Macedonia were often similar; however the lived experiences and trauma exposure varied widely, as did cultural perceptions of trauma and individual resilience. By collecting these narratives, the project has aimed to gain insight into the physical and psychological health needs within this transient, vulnerable population, as well as a deeper appreciation of the impact of culture, health and illness perceptions on dealing with both acute and chronic trauma. During the research period, the findings were used immediately to improve the NGO health response through integration into health needs assessments, demonstrating the importance of individual health narratives in improving humanitarian health response and health provision.
- This project is led by Dr. Miriam Orcutt (UCL-IGH)
- Affiliation: UCL-Institute of Global Health
Temporary migrants or new European citizens? Geographies of integration and response between ‘camps’ and the city.
- Funded by the British Academy UK International Challenges award, this project aims to provide an alternative account of the European ‘refugee crisis’, where the arrival of over 1.5 million refugees since 2015 has stretched EU and individual state capacities; tested formal registration and arrival procedures; and (reignited) debates around continental ‘margins’ and geopolitical power differentials between east and west Europe. In this project, we provincialise and challenge narratives of ‘the crisis’ through an engagement with the evolving duties of care, needs and agencies of refugees and providers on the arrival ‘frontlines’. Our multi-sited research engages with the myriad forms of arrival settlement, from the makeshift and temporary camps along the Hungarian-Serbian border to the sprawling tent communities in Lesbos, and the disintegration of the ‘Jungle’ in Calais. By ‘thinking from the south’ and vantage of post-colonial cities, we will capture and explore the improvisation, precarity, makeshift practices and alternative scripts of citizenship that refugees and local agencies utilize alongside how state rules and norms are negotiated.
- The project is led by Dr Tatiana Thieme (UCL-Geography) in collaboration with Dr. Eszter Kovacs (University of Cambridge) and Dr. Kavita Ramakrishnan (UEA).
- Affiliation: UCL-Department of Geography
The work of Teatro di Nascosto/Hidden Theatre
- This interdisciplinary research examines the work ethics adopted by Teatro di Nascosto/Hidden Theatre, an International Theatre company based in Italy that creates events in territories of war and occupied territories primarily in the Middle East, and in European cities. The project analyses how Annet Henneman, the Company's director and founder, applies theatre reportage and theatre anthropology to explore human rights and refugees' rights with the intent to create a deeper understanding between the people living in the Middle East and those living in Europe. The project explores the notion of 'hospitality' in relation to Henneman's travelling to meet the people whose stories are told in the theatrical events, and in relation to the actor's training for international acting groups. Ultimately, the research examines the effect of these intersected methodologies through the actor's body and voice in the act of performance.
- The project is led by Dr. Marta Niccolai
- Affiliation: UCL-Department of Italian
- Human trafficking, 'people smuggling' and clandestine migration are some of the most politically volatile and socially pressing issues in the present day, but they also have a long history. This project contributes significantly to the emerging study of the history of illicit and clandestine migration by examining the history of trafficking in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in comparative and global perspective. The PI, Julia Laite, a specialist on trafficking and migration in the British World, and the CoI, Philippa Hetherington, a specialist on trafficking in the Russian empire, will collaborate to produce a comparative study of trafficking and clandestine migration in these two nations and empires in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, while organizing a series of workshops and a major digital collaboration project that will bring together historians who are studying trafficking, smuggling and illicit migration in other areas of the world in the modern period. This digital collaboration will also produce a web-application, centred around an interactive mapping project, which will be collaboratively built by project participants based on their own research and expertise and shared widely with both academic and non-academic stakeholders.
- This project is led by Dr. Julia Laite (Birkbeck) with Dr. Philippa Hetherington (UCL-SSEES).
- Affiliation: UCL-School of Slavonic and East European Studies
- 'Zugunruhe' is a theatre project that explores migration patterns in both humans and the natural world, and examines the cultural/ political construction of a 'refugee'. The project builds on Tom Bailey's earlier his work with refugees at the Good Chance theatre in the Calais 'Jungle' refugee camp in 2016. During Tom's residency with the Migration Research Unit as Leverhulme Artist in Residence, he will be researching and developing work that explores migration through live performance. Throughout his residence, Tom will be running a series of workshops around his research, and presenting a developmental performance of 'Zugunruhe' later in 2017.
- The project is led by Tom Bailey, Leverhulme Artist in Residence at the UCL-Migration Research Unit
- Affiliation: Migration Research Unit, UCL-Geography.