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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  People  /  Research Staff  /  Estella Carpi

Estella Carpi


Room G16, Migration Research Unit

Department of Geography,
University College London,
26 Bedford Way,


Twitter: @estycrp

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University of Sydney, Australia

PhD, Thesis in Social Anthropology | 2015

University of Milan, Italy

MPhil, Thesis in Linguistic Anthropology in Lebanon (Course in Languages and Cultures for International Communication and Institutions) | 2008

University of Milan, Italy

BA, Thesis in Cooperation for Development in Egypt (Course in Linguistic and Cultural Mediation) | 2005

I received my PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Sydney in Australia, with a research project on the social response to humanitarian assistance in postwar Beirut's southern suburbs and in the Akkar villages (Lebanon) after the 2011-2014 Syrian refugee influxes.

In the past, I worked as a researcher for several international and academic institutions in the Middle Eastern region, such as UN Habitat (Beirut) and the American University of Beirut; Lebanon Support (Beirut); the New York University of Abu Dhabi (NYUAD); Trends Research and Advisory (Abu Dhabi); UNDP (Cairo); the International Development Centre (Cairo).

After studying Arabic in Milan and Damascus (2002-2007), I wrote my MPhil thesis in Linguistic Anthropology, focusing on the Everyday Speech in Contemporary Lebanon (2008).

I am presently looking at Southern-led humanitarian responses to displacement from Syria, with a focus on Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan. I research these themes within a European Research Council funded project in the Geography Migration Research Unit.


I am primarily interested in studying the ways in which societies respond to crises and crisis management. I have worked extensively on humanitarianism, politics of aid provision, social development, identity politics, and the catastrophisation discourse, with a specific focus on the Arab Levant (Syria and Lebanon) and Turkey.

In particular, I have conducted extensive research on humanitarian assistance, forced migration, and chronic vulnerabilities (Lebanon and Syria); social protection nets, poverty, and welfare (Egypt); family law and women's parity (Morocco); social services and political order (UAE); and education in emergencies and displacement (Jordan).

I have recently concluded the following projects:

  • In 2016/2017 I have been Primary Investigator and Project Coordinator on Refugee Self-Reliance and Humanitarian Action in Urban Markets, which is a joint project between the Bartlett Development Planning Unit (UCL) and the Humanitarian Affairs Team, Save the Children UK.
  • Urban Crisis Learning Project for Bangladesh and Haiti (October 2016-September 2017), in partnership with Oxfam GB, Habitat for Humanity, and the Overseas Development Institute (London, UK). Project funded by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).
  • Child Protection, Vulnerability, and Play Activities. NGOs addressing the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Lebanon, with Dr Chiara Diana (IREMAM, France). One co-authored book chapter and one co-authored academic article will be published next year on these themes.


Click here for publications.


I work in the Migration Research Unit, which provides briefing and policy papers and organises an annual student conference as well as collaborating in organsining evens such as the Refugee in a Moving World Series.

In the past, I have always made the effort to disseminate my research findings in academic and non-academic environment. For example, I have presented my research in Halba (northern Lebanon) in a local public library and in several NGOs in the UK and in the Middle Eastern region.


I have lectured extensively in the Social Sciences in Australia, Italy, Lebanon, and Turkey.

I presently run a series of seminars in Humanitarian Studies at the University of Turin, Italy.

I have been a teaching assistant and casual lecturer in the following undergraduate and postgraduate units of study:

Introduction to Sociology; Human Rights and Social Protest; Social Inequality; the Middle East and the International Law; Arabic and Islamic studies.

In particular, I have taught:

  • Humanitarianism as an ideology, transnational governance, and NGOs
  • Transitional justice and reconciliation in conflict-ridden contexts
  • Gender, political, and economic inequalities
  • Religion and society
  • International relations in the Middle East and North Africa region (war chronologies; water and territorial disputes; the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; the Iran's nuclear issue)
  • Nationalism and identity in the Arab world
  • Comic strips and humour in the Arab world


I have been primary supervisor of three Master’s theses at the University College London, UK (Semester II 2017):

1. Ms Anya Cardwell, MSc in Social Development: “Syrian Refugee Women accessing Informal Housing in Bourj Hammoud (Lebanon)”.

2. Mr Akil Scafe-Smith, MSc in Urban Planning: “Criminalised Forced Migration in the Mediterranean Region. Transforming Urban Space”.

3. Ms Sabina Siddiqui, MSc in History: “The Arab (and African) Republic of Egypt: Governmental Nationalist Agendas and Citizens’ Responses to Arab and African Refugees”.