Migration, refugees and asylum

‘Migration is at the heart of who we are – it is the process of action, of learning. Migration is a natural celebration of human nature’ Lemn Sissay (Chancellor installation speech 2015)

The challenge:

The movement of people has always been part of the human condition bringing about change in all societies, addressing some social, political and economic challenges while simultaneously creating others. Mobility and migration raise important conceptual and philosophical questions about notions of rights, citizenship and belonging. They are also central to global development agendas, when considering, for example, the role of remittances and other more intangible transfers by people on the move; the role of the state and international organisations; and the relationships between those who move and those who choose not to – or who cannot – move. Mobility also calls into question the idea of national or regional development: is it concerned with changes in a geographical location or changes in the lives of people, wherever they may move?

New technologies, shifting public and political attitudes towards people on the move and the challenges posed by climate change and conflicts across the world, will continue to shape processes of migration, mobility and transnational relations. More recently, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought into stark relief deep global inequalities that underpin the experiences of many mobile populations. The relationship between mobility and development is thus continuously changing in profound and unpredictable ways.

How we are addressing it:

We pursue a range of innovative research agendas that explore and interrogate the relationship between varied and multiple forms of mobility and social, economic and political development.

Through major research grants key themes under investigation include:

  • Contesting the politics of border-zones, borderscapes, encampment and containment through the lens of the postcolonial hegemonic world order.
  • Examining the journey to challenge the characterisation of migration as a unilinear move from one place to another and to explore the significance of trauma, transit and sojourn in shaping movements and their outcomes.
  • Understanding mobile lives through the lens of transnational lived citizenship as a category of analysis and a category of practice.
  • Investigating theoretical understandings of social transformation through empirical and historical analysis of shifting social relations across generations.
  • Challenging top-down economic and bureaucratic approaches to migration through an exploration of everyday agency and solidarity that includes the corporate sector, civil society, diaspora and global networks.
  • Exploring the role of gender and intersectional concerns, including race, sexuality, disability and class, in shaping inequalities for migrants, their families and communities at origin and destination.
  • Exploring historical processes of postcolonial mobility to de-centre western notions of adventure, travel and exploration.

Research Projects

Our teaching agenda:

We offer a dedicated Masters pathway that centres on the interactions between migration and development.

In addition, the core modules on migration and mobility can be taken as options within the following pathways:

We also offer supervision on any topics linked to Migration, Refugees and Asylum within the following two PhD programmes:

People and publications:

Click on the names below to read their latest publications or read the latest publications from the Global Development Institute.

There are several non-GDI colleagues who are also involved in the migration, refugees and asylum research group

Honorary Research Fellows 

GDI PhD Researchers and Post-Doctoral Fellows

  • Maria del Pilar Bohada Rodriguez - Conflict-induced displacement, aspirations and “the capacity to aspire”
  • Malte Skov - Nepal-Malaysia migration: Gender and Inequality
  • Andreina Carillo Espinoza - In-between nations. The transnational agenda of the Venezuelan diaspora in Spain, and Democratic Legitimacy.
  • Leona Yang – “Irregular migrants’” struggles for novel forms of humanitarianism: Struggles and resistance in Morocco

The migration, refugees and asylum group also works closely with PhD researchers and post-doctoral fellows from other departments. 

News and insights: