Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)



Analysing South-South Humanitarian Responses to Displacement from Syria

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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.


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Through the use of different methodological instruments, this research tries to gather the complexity concerning the dimension of home in migrants’ experience.

Children Caring on the Move (CCoM)

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An ESRC-funded research project that investigates separated child migrants’ experiences of care, and caring for others, as they navigate the complexities of the immigration-welfare nexus in England. 

Co-Developing a method for assessing the psychosocial impact of cultural interventions with displaced people: Towards an integrated care framework

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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.

Dislocated Identities and ‘Non-places’ – Heritage, Place-making and Wellbeing in Refugee Camps

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Examining 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.

Engaging Refugee Narratives: Perspectives from Academia and the Arts

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This series of international conferences and arts workshops - first run in 2016 - brings together arts practitioners and academics who all are engaged in work with refugees through talks, demonstrations and interactive workshops.

Human Rights Beyond Borders

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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.

Many strong voices

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This project brings together Arctic peoples with peoples from the small island developing states to tackle climate change within wider sustainability and development challenges.

Rationing deservedness

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'Rationing deservingness in times of Covid-19: housing, place, and dispersal in Northern England' will advance public debates on deservingness, welfare, and migration, and how these are embedded within complex and intersecting place-based inequalities

Refugee Cities

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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. 

Refugee Health

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.

Refugee Hosts

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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.

Refugee Self-Reliance and Humanitarian Action in Urban Markets

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The DPU and Save the Children UK have embarked on a research programme that aims to inform humanitarian action and policy makers in urban contexts of protracted displacement.

Resilient Futures

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The principal aim of this research project is to help build resilient futures for the Rohingya refugee and local host populations in Cox’s Bazar district, Bangladesh, through research and practical solutions to reduce hydro-meteorological disaster risks, particularly landslide risks, through a co-produced approach between natural and social scientists.

SELMA project

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Pursuing an interdisciplinary approach, the SELMA project examines how to improve the sexual health of migrants and refugees, with particular attention to the roles policy responses play in addressing broader determinants of health.

Solidarities project

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Through a multi-sited ethnography in Denmark, Sweden, and the UK, SOLIDARITIES seeks to contribute fresh insights to public debates on deservingness, welfare, and migration.

Hidden Theatre

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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.

Trafficking, Smuggling and Illicit Migration

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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.

Completed projects

Pathways to Education for Women Refugees and Migrants in London

This 2017-2019 project was part of the on-going cross-departmental initiative of the Refuge in a Moving World (RIMW) network. Since 2015, RiMW has been coordinating UCL-wide staff and student activities in support of refugees and developing ways the UCL community can support refugees and migrants to access and participate in higher education. Members of the RiMW education sub-committee lead this project. Funded by the UCL Grand Challenges Programme, this project developed a model for collaboration between the UCL community and London-based charities working with women refugees and migrants, synthesising these groups’ expertise to design a short course aimed at strengthening pathways to education for women who are refugees or forced migrants in London. The project facilitated a series of ‘information exchange’ meetings to map the challenges that refugees and migrants face when seeking to access education, as well as their existing skills and knowledge. Based on these findings, we designed a short course to engage migrants and refugees directly, providing them with further skills, understanding and confidence.
UCL team: Dr Claudia Lapping, IOE; Prof Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, UCL-Geography; Dr Rachel Rosen, IOE; Dr Amy North, IOE; Raphaela Armbruster, CLIE; Dr Shaista Aziz; Phd © Iman Azzi, IOE; Phd © Sara Joiko, IOE

Refugee Self-Reliance and Humanitarian Action in Urban Markets

As protraction of crises increasingly becomes a long term drive for urban change and a challenge for city governance and infrastructures, this research project focused 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 investigated 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 was 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 was developed by The Bartlett’s Development Planning Unit,  University College London (DPU) and the Humanitarian Affairs Team of Save the Children UK (HAT).

Religion and the Promotion of Social Justice for Refugees (2018-2020)

Funded by the British Council-USA and the Henry Luce Foundation, this interdisciplinary project brought together leading experts from the UK and the US to examine the roles that religion plays in promoting social justice for refugees. Through comparative research with and about refugees from and in Central America, Central Africa, the Middle East, South East Asia and Western borderlands, the project aimed to analyse the roles that local faith communities and faith based organisations (FBOs) play: in supporting refugees’ access to protection; lobbying for rights; and challenging xenophobia and discrimination against different groups of refugees.
This project was led by Prof. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh (UCL-Geography), Dr. Zareena Grewal (Yale University) and Dr Unni Krishnan Karunakara (Yale University), in collaboration with UK-based co-investigaotors Prof. Alastair Ager (Queen Margaret University), Dr. Anna Rowlands (Durham University) and Prof. Lyndsey Stonebridge (UEA). and US-based Prof. Catherine Panter-Brick (Yale University) and Dr. Louisa Lombard (Yale University).

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 was 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 provincialised and challenged 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 engaged 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 captured and explored 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 was 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


'Zugunruhe' was a theatre project that explored migration patterns in both humans and the natural world, and examined the cultural/ political construction of a 'refugee'. The project built on Tom Bailey's earlier 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, Tom researched and developed work that explores migration through live performance. Throughout his residence, Tom ran a series of workshops around his research, and presented a developmental performance of 'Zugunruhe' in 2017.
The project was led by Tom Bailey, Leverhulme Artist in Residence at the UCL-Migration Research Unit
Affiliation: Migration Research Unit, UCL-Geography.