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Kat Eghdamian


Kat Eghdamian - small resolution.jpegKat Eghdamian
PhD Researcher

UCL Department of Geography
University College London
North-West Wing
Room 106
Gower Street



Dr Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Lecturer in Human Geography and Co-Director of the Migration Research Unit, Department of Geography, UCL

Dr Claire Dwyer, Reader in Geography and Co-Director of the Migration Research Unit, Department of Geography, UCL


Thesis title (working):

Rethinking Religion in Humanitarianism: Examining the Nature and Implications of Discursive Representations of Syrian Refugees on Religious Minorities in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey

My research explores how, why, and with what effect, religious heterogeneity is largely unreported by humanitarian actors in relation to Syrian refugees living in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey – three neighbouring countries that respectively host over 650,000, 1 million, and 2.2 million refugees from Syria. In particular, it examines experiences of religious plurality in these contexts and its implications for reconceptualising the role of religion in humanitarianism beyond identity politics.


Specifically, the research will explore the ways in which Syrian refugees are referred to, described, depicted, and identified (and consequently constituted) in written, visual, and verbal language by UNHCR and other stakeholders. These representations form a ‘discourse’ on ‘Syrian refugees’ that must first be identified before being critically analysed. This critical analysis will include a particular focus on tracing the constitutive effects and implications of these discursive representations on religious minority refugees from Syria, particularly in relation to their well-being, security, and access to UNHCR services.  In doing so, examining the nature and constitutive effects of this discourse will uncover insights into broader perceptions and assumptions on the role of religion in humanitarianism and thus, the place of religious plurality in such contexts.

My research aims to contribute to four interconnected sets of literature related to religion in forced migration studies, humanitarianism, and in human geography: firstly, refugees’ religious affiliations and religious pluralism in refugee situations; secondly, the politics of representing refugees and their effects on perceptions of refugee identities and needs; and thirdly, institutional assumptions, perspectives, and responses to religious pluralism and their effects on refugee protection and assistance for minority groups; and finally, the role of religion in humanitarianism.

This research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).


I am committed to contributing to the fields of religion, forced migration, and minority rights issues. I recently returned from Jordan, undertaking research into the experiences of religious minorities among Syrian refugees. My work has appeared in The Conversation, ABC Radio National, and The Washington Post, as well as in academic and policy-relevant publications.

In addition to undertaking my PhD at UCL, I am also a Research Associate at the London and Beirut based research and policy centre, Centre on Religion and Global Affairs (CRGA), a Consultant at the human-centred innovation agency, Mensch, and an Associate Tutor for the MA on Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies at the University of London. I am a qualified barrister and solicitor, having worked in the human rights field for almost a decade before entering academia, and I hold postgraduate degrees from the LSE and University of Oxford.

2018 (expected)          PhD Geography, UCL

2015                            MPhil Development Studies, University of Oxford

2011                            MSc Sociology, London School of Economics (LSE)

2009                            BA (First Class Honours) Sociology, University of Auckland

2006                            LLB (Law) and BA (Sociology), University of Otago


Eghdamian, K. (2016) “Intersections between Gender, Religion, and Experiences of Displacement: Initial Insights from Syrian Christian Refugee Women in Jordan” (in preparation)

Eghdamian, K. (2016) “Religious Identity and Experiences of Displacement: An Examination into the Discursive Representations of Syrian Refugees and Their Effects on Religious Minorities Living in Jordan”, Journal of Refugee Studies (under review)

Eghdamian, K. (2016) “Faith, Secularism, and Humanitarian Engagement”, Book Review, Journal of Refugee Studies (accepted, awaiting publication)

Eghdamian, K. (2015) “Religious Minority Experiences of Displacement: Initial Lessons Learnt from Syrian Christian and Syrian Druze Refugees in Jordan”, UCL Migration Research Unit

Eghdamian, K. (2015) “Managing Muslim Mobilities: Between Spiritual Geographies and the Global Refugee Regime. Edited by Anita H. Fabos and Riina Isotalo”, Journal of Refugee Studies 28(4): 601-604

Eghdamian, K. (2015) “Remembering Religious Minorities in the Syrian Refugee Crisis”, The Conversation, 30 September 2015

Eghdamian, K. (2014) “What was the role of religion in the Arab Spring?”, openDemocracy - Arab Awakening, 28 July 2014

Eghdamian, K. (2014) “Religious Plurality and the Politics of Representation in Refugee Camps”, Oxford Monitor of Forced Migration 4(1): 37-40


GEOGG205 – Gender, Generation and Forced Migration (Postgraduate Teaching Assistant)