Dr Maja Korac-Sanderson
Reader in refugee and migration studies
Centre for Social Justice and Change, Feminist research group, Social Sciences
Maja Korac-Sanderson research is in the fields of gender, conflict, displacement and human security. She teaches in MA Refugee Studies; MA Conflict, Displacement & Human Security; BA International Development; and BA Politics and International Relations.
Dr Maja Korac-Sanderson is a sociologist and a Reader in Migration and Refugee Studies specialising in gender, conflict and gender based violence, as well as gender, (forced) migration, diversity and social inclusion. The primary geographical focus of her research is Europe, the EU as well as Eastern, Central and South Eastern Europe.
Maja has held positions at the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford (Britain), Centre for Refugee Studies and the Centre for Feminist Research, York University (Canada), and University of Belgrade (Yugoslavia/Serbia). She has done consultancies for government institutions as well as non-governmental organisations, such as the Home Office and the Advice on Individual Rights in Europe (AIRE Centre). Her research has been supported by the EC Community Action Programme to Combat Social Exclusion, The Hayter Fund, The British Council, The Oppenheimer Fund, Ford Foundation, Open Society Institute, and Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada: Professional Partnerships Programme.
Maja is a co-founder of the Women in Conflict Zones Network (WICZNET), an international network of scholars, policymakers and grassroots women’s groups from around the world. She co-coordinated the WICZNET collaborative international project: “A Comparative Study of the Issues Faced by Women as a Result of Armed Conflict: Sri Lanka and the Post-Yugoslav States” (1998-2000).
of the Centre for Social Justice and Change, School of Social Sciences,
University of East London (UEL).
A founding member of the Feminist Research Group, School of Social Sciences, UEL
Member of the Centre on Human Rights in Conflict, School of Business and Law, UEL
Member of the Centre of Narrative Research, School of Social Sciences, UEL
Honorary Research Fellow of the Institute for Sociological Research, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, Serbia.
Sociology Pathway joint leader: Economic and Social Research Council, UBEL Doctoral Training Partnership
Member of the Cass School of Education and Communities Research Degree Sub-Committee
Co-Director MA Refugee Studies Programme
Co-Director MA Conflict, Displacement, and Human Security
Maja has acted as a referee for:
The Leverhulme Trust (UK);
The ESRC (UK);
The Austrian Science Fund (FWF);
The Portuguese Academy of Science
Areas of Interest/Summary of Expertise
and (Forced) Migration Studies
Gender dimensions of displacement and mobility
Conflict, humanitarian intervention and development
Gender dimensions of conflict, post-conflict and development
Ethnic and gender-based violence in war
Diversity, social inclusion, citizenship and social policy
Diasporic and transnational networks and practices
Transit migration and borders
Ethnographic research methodologies
Maja Korac-Sanderson’s research focuses on:
Gender, conflict, and gender-based violence
The special area of interest within Maja’s research is the role of gender in conflict and conflict resolution within the conceptual framework of social capital. Within this framework her research examines how bonding and bridging connections shape conflict situations as well as how peace-building processes are gendered. This research was funded by Visiting Research Scholar Fellowship, Centre for Refugee Studies, York University, Canada (1993-94), Noami Harder Award, Centre for Refugee Studies, York University, Canada (1994-95), and Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada: Professional Partnerships Programme (1997). Maja’s book entitled Linking Arms: Women and war in post-Yugoslav sates (1998) published by the Life & Peace Institute, Uppsala University, is one of the publications related to this strand of her on-going research.
Maja’s scholarly research has always aimed to affect positive social change in the areas of her expertise. This has led her to become one of the founding members of the Women in Conflict Zones Network (WICZNET), an international network of scholars, policymakers and grassroots women’s groups from around the world. She co-coordinated the WICZNET collaborative international project: “A Comparative Study of the Issues Faced by Women as a Result of Armed Conflict: Sri Lanka and the Post-Yugoslav States” (1998-2000). These research activities were funded by the Ford Foundation and Open Society Institute. Some of Maja’s publications focusing on grassroots women’s anti-war activism in conflict and (post)conflict situations include a co-edited book Feminist under Fire: Exchanges across War Zones, Toronto: Between the Lines (2003; translations: Sinhalese 2008; Croatian 2004) and the more recent journal article 'Feminists Against Sexual Violence in War: The Question of Perpetrators and Victims Revisited'. Social Sciences, 2018, 7(10).
Migration, diversity, and social inclusion
Maja’s research has also focused on the role of social networks in settlement and inclusion of immigrants in receiving societies. Her work in this area challenges statist approaches to settlement and puts emphasis on the agency of immigrants in the processes of inclusion. Her focus is on the process of emplacement that helps uncover the role of bridging social links, that migrants as social agents and gendered actors, establish with local populations in receiving societies. Maja began research in this area while at the Refugee Studies Centre, at the University of Oxford, UK. While at Oxford, she was the Principal Investigator of a large comparative, international study about integration of refugees in the EU. This research was partially funded by The Oppenheimer Fund (1999-00), The Hayter Fund (2000-01), and The British Council (2000-01). Maja’s book Remaking Home (Berghahn Books Oxford 2009; Serbian translation 2012), as well as her publication entitled ‘Citizenship and Emplacement: Processes and practices of inclusion of newcomers’ [2016 Citizents at Heart? Integrations of refugees in the EU after the Yugoslav wars of succession. Kostic, Roland, L. Bennich-Björkman, and B. Likic-Brboric (eds). Uppsala Multiethnic Papers (UMP); No. 56. Uppsala University: Hugo Valentin Centre], are some of the publications on social inclusion, emplacement and citizenship part of Maja’s research.
Migration to transition societies: Chinese in Serbia
Maja’s research has also examined how global restructuring, transnational processes and practices are linking new sending and destination areas. While the research explores intersections of these, it moves beyond the macro structures by looking into the agency of the migrants themselves and how they transform transition societies into attractive destinations. Theoretically, this research challenges dominant notions of temporary or permanent settlement and incorporation in migration literature. The specific focus of this research is Chinese migration to Serbia. The project combines ethnographic fieldwork in Serbia, analysis of the (local) media concerning the exotic stranger in our midst’, as well as a survey of literature on new Chinese migration as well as on rural-urban migration within China. This research was funded by a UEL Sabbatical Scheme Grant, School of Humanities and Social Sciences (2009-10). Maja’s publication entitled ‘Chinese traders in Serbia: Gender opportunities, translocal family strategies and transnational mobility’ (2013) Ars & Humanities Journal, special issue Many Faces of Migration; VII(2), is one of her publications on transnational mobility of this specific group of migrants in Europe.
Migration to Europe: Balkan Route and its Transit
This ongoing research examines the recent massive displacement from Syria and the surrounding region, and focuses specifically on the Balkan migratory route, notably Serbia. The research is critically assessing the EU tendency to externalise the need to provide protection to refugees and the effects of these rapid changes on the Western Balkan states, specifically Serbia. The research explores the prospects of the region to overcome migration and security challenges imposed in a productive and peaceful way. Theoretically, it challenges the migration-security nexus and the dominant notion of state security. The research focuses on human security of both forcible displaced populations as well as the citizens of so-called transitory societies, such as Serbia. Maja’s research interest in state centred security concerns informed some of her more recent publications, such as (2017) ‘Bordering and Re-bordering Security: Causes and Consequences of Framing Refugees as a ‘Threat’ to Europe’. Towards Understanding of Contemporary Migration. Causes, Consequences, Policies, Reflections, Bobic, M. (ed.). Belgrade: Institute of Sociological Research (ISBN 978-86-6427-065-6 published in English) as well as her article ‘Gendered and Racialized Border Security: Displaced people and the politics of fear’, Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy (forthcoming 2020, 9(2).
In 2018-19, as part of this umbrella project, Maja was the Principal Investigator of a collaborative project entitled ‘The Other’ and Ourselves: Culture as the agent of social change and carried out in Serbia. The country is experiencing challenges posed by increased migration, since 2015, while it still grapples with the long-standing consequences of the wars of the 1990s. This has created heightened human insecurity in Serbia, of both newly arriving migrants and its citizens, and often leads to animosities and inability to engage in a productive public or political dialogue. This project focused on artistic practices that help initiate a positive engagement across differences in a non-confrontational way. This project aimed to assess critically the role and benefits of using artistic practices as agents of positive social change. It aimed to initiate support and further growth of local networking between NGO sector, HEI, and other public sector (mainstream) institutions, and their productive engagement with initiatives that promote and foster openness to interpretation that constitutes an invitation to dialogue. The project was conducted in collaboration with two local partners, Faculty of Drama, Belgrade University of Arts, and Group 484, a local NGO that supports refugees and other migrants in Serbia, since the early 1990s. The project was funded by Research England via the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) grant. The main findings are published in the special issue entitled ‘The Other’ and Ourselves: Artistic Interventions as the Key for Communication and Understanding ‘the Other’ of the Interculturality: Journal for stimulation and affirmation of Intercultural communication. (2020). Novi Sad: Cultural Centre of Vojvodina ‘Milos Crnjanski’. (ISSN 2217-4893 – published in Serbian). Maja co-edited this journal special issue with Milena Dragicevic-Sesic, Faculty of Drama, Belgrade University of Arts, Serbia.
Experience of displacement in life and scholarly work
Maja is working on a book project that explores her own experience of displacement. Its influence on her academic interests and research. In this project she also ponders how her scholarship has affected her sense of emplacement. Maja’s journal article entitled ‘Key Stories – Tales on geographies, maps, and methodologies of bordering’, published in 2016 (Critica Contemporanea, Revista de teoria politica. Special Issue: Narrative (and) Politics. No. 6.: 104-117) is part of this auto-ethnographic project.
ResearchDr Maja Korac-Sanderson’s research focuses on:
and Racialized Border Security: Displaced people and the politics of fear.
International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy. Vol. 9, No.
Other’ and Ourselves: Artistic Interventions as the Key for Communication and
‘the Other’. Special Issue of the Interculturality: Journal for stimulation and
Intercultural communication, Milena Dragicevic-Sesic and
Maja Korac-Sanderson (Eds.). Novi
Sad: Cultural Centre of Vojvodina ‘Milos Crnjanski’.
(1-164) (ISSN 2217-4893 – published in Serbian)
2019 'Racialized and Gendered
Cultures of Othering: Displaced People in the Neoliberal World.
The Anthology of Essays
of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts. 35, pp. 135-150. Belgrade:
University of Arts (ISSN
1450-5681-published in English)
coming Gendered and Racialized Border Security: Displaced people and the politics of fear.
International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy. Vol. 9, No.
2020 ‘The Other’ and Ourselves: Artistic Interventions as the Key for Communication and
Understanding ‘the Other’. Special Issue of the Interculturality: Journal for stimulation and
affirmation of Intercultural communication, Milena Dragicevic-Sesic and
Maja Korac-Sanderson (Eds.). Novi Sad: Cultural Centre of Vojvodina ‘Milos Crnjanski’.
(1-164) (ISSN 2217-4893 – published in Serbian)
2019 'Racialized and Gendered Cultures of Othering: Displaced People in the Neoliberal World.
The Anthology of Essays of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts. 35, pp. 135-150. Belgrade:
University of Arts (ISSN 1450-5681-published in English)
Against Sexual Violence in War: The Question of Perpetrators and Victims
Revisited'. Social Sciences, 7(10) 182. Special issue entitled Feminisms: Forwards,
Backwards and Something in Between. (Social Sciences is an open access journal -
ISSN 2076-0760). http://www.mdpi.com/2076-0760/7/10/182/pdf
2017 ‘Bordering and Re-bordering Security: Causes and Consequences of Framing Refugees
as a ‘Threat’ to Europe’, in M. Bobic (ed.) Towards Understanding of Contemporary
Migration. Causes, Consequences, Policies, Reflections. Belgrade: Institute of Sociological
Research (this volume is published in English and is also available on-line)
2016 ‘Key Stories – Tales on geographies, maps, and methodologies of bordering’. Critica
Contemporanea, Revista de teoria politica. Special Issue: Dossier – Ideas that can only be
(re)conted: Narrative (and) Politics. No. 6.: 104-117.
2016 ‘Is there a right time for gender just peace? Feminist anti-war organising revisited’, in If
not now, when? Feminism in contemporary activist, social and educational contexts. Special
Issue Gender and Education; Vol. 28 No. 3. pp 431-444
2016 ‘Citizenship and Emplacement: Processes and practices of inclusion of newcomers’, in
Kostic, Roland, L. Bennich-Björkman, and B. Likic-Brboric (eds)Citizents at Heart?
Integrations of refugees in the EU after the Yugoslav wars of succession. Uppsala
Multiethnic Papers (UMP); No. 56. Uppsala University: Hugo Valentin Centre.
2014 ‘Refugee Women Doing Paid Domestic Work: Disempowering structures of settlement
and the question of agency’, in, Mary Romero, Valerie Preston and Wenona Giles eds.
Global Migration of Care and Domestic Workers, Ashgate
2013 ‘Chinese traders in Serbia: Gender opportunities, translocal family strategies and
transnational mobility’, Ars&Humanities, special issue Many Faces of Migration;
2013 ‘Transnational pathways to integration: Chinese traders in Serbia’, Sociologija, special
issue on Contemporary Migration and Challenges to Social Integration, Vol. 55, No. 2
(Sociology – the journal of the Serbian Sociological Association, paper published in English)
2013 ‘Transnational entrepreneurs: Chinese in Serbia and their translocal strategies of
betterment and incorporation’ in Kokot,W.,C. Giordano, M. Gandelsman-Trier (eds) Diaspora
as a Resource: Comparative Studies in Strategies, Networks and Urban Space. Münster,
Berlin, Vienna, Zurich: LIT Verlag, Freiburger Sozialanthropologische Studien / Freiburg
Studies in Social Anthropology
2009 Remaking Home: Experiences of Reconstructing Life, Place and Identity in Rome and
Amsterdam. Berghahn Books, Oxford (1-184). (Serbian translation 2012. Belgrade:
Zavod za izdavanje udzbenika)
2009 ‘Policy, agency, and intercultural dialogue: Experiences of refugees from war-torn
Yugoslavia in Italy’, in Mondi Migranti Issue no. 3, November- December
2008 ‘Gender, Conflict, and Social Capital: Bonding and Bridging In War’, in Michaelene Cox
ed. Social Capital and Peace-Building: Creating and Resolving Conflict with Trust and
Social Networks, Routledge (p.107-121).
2006 ‘Gender, Conflict and Peace-Building: Lessons from the conflict in the former Yugoslavia’,
Women’s Studies International Forum, special issue entitled: ‘Framing Gender Identities:
Local Conflict/Global Violence’, Vol. 29, No. 5 (p. 510-520).
2005 ‘The role of bridging social networks in refugee settlement: The Case of Exile
Communities from the Former Yugoslavia in Italy and the Netherlands’. Homeland wanted:
Interdisciplinary perspectives on the refugee resettlement. Peter Waxman and
Val Colic-Peisker (Eds.). New York: Nova Science Publishers Inc. (p. 87-109)
2004 ‘War, Flight, and Exile: Gendered Violence among Refugee Women from Post-
Yugoslav States’. Sites of Violence: Gender and Conflict Zones. Wenona Giles and
Jennifer Hyndman (Eds.). University of California Press. (p. 249-272).
2004 ‘Living Ethnicity in Exile: Identity Processes in Refugees from Former Yugoslavia’.
Gender, Identitaet und kriegerischer Konflikt. Das Beispiel des ehemaligen
Jugoslawien; Ruth Saifert (Ed.).Muenster: Lit Verlag. Bi-lingual, German-English
volume. (p. 131-151).
2003 Feminists Under Fire: Exchanges Across War Zones. Co-editor with Wenona Giles,
Malathi De Alwis, Edith Klain, Neluka Silva, Djurdja Knezevic, and Zarana Papic.
Toronto: Between the Lines (p. 1-238). (Sinhalese translation 2008. Colombo:
International Centre for Ethnic Studies) (Croatian translation 2004. Zagreb:
2003 The lack of integration policy and experiences of integration: a case study of refugees in
Rome’, Journal of Refugee Studies; Vol. 16, No. 4 (p. 398-421).
2003 ‘Integration and how we facilitate it: A comparative study of settlement experiences of
refugees in Italy and the Netherlands’, Sociology (BSA), Vol. 37, No.1 (p. 51-68).
2003 ‘Women Organizing against Ethnic Nationalism and War in the Post-Yugoslav States.
Feminists Under Fire: Exchanges Across War Zones. Co-editor with Wenona Giles,
Malathi De Alwis, Edith Klain, Neluka Silva, Djurdja Knezevic, and Zarana Papic.
Toronto: Between the Lines.
2002 ‘The role of the state in refugee integration and settlement: Italy and the Netherlands
compared’, Forced Migration Review, No. 14, June (p. 30-32).
2002 ‘Dilemmas of integration: settlement experiences of refugees in Rome’. Refugee Studies
and Politics: Human Dimensions and Research Perspectives. Susanne Binder and
Jelena Tosic (Eds.). Vienna: Vienna University Press. (p. 25-62).
2001 ‘Cross-ethnic networks, self-reception system, and functional integration of refugees
from former Yugoslavia in Rome, Italy’, Journal of International Migration and Integration,
Vol. 2, No. 1 (p. 1-26).
2000 Women in Conflict Zones. Co-editor with Ariane Brunet, Alison Crosby, Malathi de Alwis,
Vanessa Farr, Wenona Giles, Zarana Papic, Goli Rezai-Rashti, Neluka Silva, and
Barbara Treviranus. Special Issue of Canadian Women’s Studies, Vol. 19, No. 4,
York University Publications (p. 1-159).
1999 ‘Refugee Women in Serbia: Their Experiences with War, Nationalism and State
Building’. Women, Citizenship and Difference. Nira Yuval Davis and Pnina Werbner
(Eds.). London: Zed Books. (p. 192-204).
1998 Linking Arms: Women and war in post-Yugoslav sates, Women and Nonviolence
Series, No. 6. Uppsala: Life & Peace Institute (p.1-75).
1998 ‘Ethnic Nationalism, Wars and the Patterns of Social, Political and Sexual Violence
against Women: the Case of Post Yugoslav Countries’. Identities: Global Studies in
Culture and Power, Vol. 5, No. 2 (p. 153-181).
1996 ‘Understanding Ethnic National Identity and its Meaning: Questions from Women's
Experience’. Women's Studies International Forum, Vol. 19, Nos. 1-2. (p. 133-144).
1996 ‘Understanding Ethnic National Identity in Times of War and Social Change’. The
Literature of Nationalism: Essays on East European Identity. Robert B. Pynsent (Ed.).
London: MacMillan Press. (p. 236-246).
1996 ‘Gender, Nationalism, and Ethnic National Identity Crisis: The Case of the Former
Yugoslavia’. Development & Diaspora: Gender and the Refugee Experience. Wenona
Giles, Helene Moussa and Penny Van Esterik (Eds.), with Victoria Foote. Toronto:
Artemis Enterprises. (p. 87-99).
1996 ‘Ethnic Conflict, Rape and Feminism: The Case of Yugoslavia’. Research on Russia
and Eastern Europe: Women in Post-communism, Vol. 2, Metta Spencer and Barbara
Wejnert (Eds.). Greenwich, Connecticut; London, England: JAI Press Inc. (p. 247-266).
1994 Special Issue on the Former Yugoslavia. Guest Editor, Special Issue of Refuge,
Vol. 14, No. 3, York University Publications (p. 1-35).
1994 ‘Representation of Mass Rape in Ethnic Conflicts in what was Yugoslavia’.
Sociologija, Vol. 36, No. 4, p. 369-527 (Sociology – the journal of the former Yugoslav
Sociological Association; published in English).
1993 ‘Serbian Nationalism - Nationalism of My Own People’. Feminist Review, No. 45,
Autumn (p. 108-113).
1991 Captives of Their Sex: Social Identity of Young Rural Women Between Traditional
Culture and Contemporary Values, Institute of Sociological Research,
University of Belgrade (published in Serbo-Croatian) (p. 1-169).
Scholarships, Awards, and Research Funding
18-19 Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), Research England
13-14 UEL Sabbatical Scheme Grant, School of Law and Social Sciences
09-10 UEL Sabbatical Scheme Grant, School of Humanities and Social Sciences
2005 The British Academy, Conference Travel Award
00/01 The Hayter Fund small research grant
00/01 The British Council research grant
99/00 The Oppenheimer Fund small research grant
1999 Mary McEwan Memorial Award, York University, Canada
1997 Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, Professional Partnerships Programme
94-05 Noami Harder Award, York University, Canada
93-94 Visiting Research Scholar Fellowship, Centre for Refugee Studies, York University, Canada
93-94 York University Scholarship, Canada.
1993 Wainwright Trust Fellowship, Held at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London
1993 The British Council Scholarship, Held at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London
1992 Webb Memorial Scholarship, Ruskin College, Oxford
Teaching and Supervision
- BA Politics and International Relations
- BA International Development
- MA Refugee Studies
- MA Conflict, Displacement, Human Security
- PhD Programme
- Gender, Power and Politics (UG)
- Conflict, Intervention and Development (UG)
- Conflict, Displacement and Human Security (PG)
- Forced Migration in the Global Era (PG)
- Policy and Practice of Humanitarianism and Development (PG)
- MA Dissertation Module
Supervision of PhD students
- Bayan Karimi, Ph.D. Student, Department of Social Sciences and Social Work, Cass School of Education and Communities, UEL, dissertation – Gender Politics of the Kurdish national movement in Iran (1979-1999)
- Margaret Adyero Apwonyokwe, PhD student, Department of Social Sciences and Social Work, UEL, dissertation – Live experiences of selected Acoli ethnic groups in Uganda: agency and victimhood through war and forced displacement.
- Amira Ahmed, Ph.D. student, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, UEL, dissertation: Aliens and Locals: Maids in Contemporary Egypt.
- Esther Afari-Mensah PhD student, School of Social Sciences, UEL, dissertation – Migrant detention as a public health challenge: A qualitative study
- Marie Godin, Ph.D. student, School of Social Sciences, UEL; dissertation: ‘Diasporic engagement’: Congolese women in Belgium, the UK and Eastern DRC
- Narriman Latefa Guemar, PhD student, School of Social Sciences, UEL, dissertation - Women of the new Algerian Diaspora: Online Discourse, Social Consciousness, and Political Engagement.
- Rumana Hashem, Ph.D. student, School of Law and Social Sciences, UEL; dissertation: Gender and armed conflict: the case of Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh
- Sheila Osmanovic, Ph.D. student, School of Social Sciences, UEL; dissertation:The Emergence of Islam as a New Paradigm in the Conduct of International Relations: the Role of Islam in the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Break-up of Yugoslavia.
- Bahar Taseli, Ph.D. student, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, UEL; dissertation:Representations of Collective ‘Self’ and ‘Other’ in the Turkish Cypriot Print Media Discourses: A Critical Approach
- Michaela Told, Ph.D. student, School of Law and Social Sciences, UEL; dissertation: A Gender Perspective on Transnationalism of the Sri Lankan Diaspora Communities in Germany