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Centre for Research on Migration, Refugees and Belonging (CMRB)


About us

The Centre for Research on Migration, Refugees and Belonging (CMRB) is led by co-directors Prof. Nira Yuval-Davis, Prof. Gargi Bhattacharyyra, Georgie Wemyss and Prof. Giorgia Dona. It brings together the interdisciplinary work carried out within the School, in the related areas of migration and refugee studies, diasporas and social cohesion, racism, nationalism and political religions, as well as intersectional citizenship, identity and belonging. 

CMRB also collaborates with individuals, academic institutions and civic organisations outside UEL on research, conferences and seminars, in order to build knowledge on these crucial issues and provide a space for debate and creative thinking. Disciplinary and methodological approaches employed by CMRB members demonstrate an enriching heterogeneity, ranging from history to ethnography, narrative analysis to performance, anthropology to cultural studies, and sociology to film studies. 

In addition, all research seeks to engage with political and policy debates as well as more abstract theoretical concerns, and aims to involve research participants in various stages of the research work and the dissemination of results. 

CMRB benefits from its unique location at the heart of East London, an area which has seen some of the highest rates of international settlement in Europe – historically and in the present day. The Refugee Council Archive and other related collections held at the university, also enhance the potential of the centre to be at the cutting edge of its field of study.


Prof Molly Andrews
Prof Floya Anthias
Prof Haim Bresheeth
Dr Kathryn Cassidy
Babak Davarpanah
Catherine Donaldson
Paul V Dudman
Rahila Gupta
Dr Jamie Hakim
Dr Narmala Halstead
Syd Jeffers
Dr Roshini Kempadoo
Prof Yosefa Loshitzky
Norbert Mbu-Mputu
Prof Peter G Morey
Dr John Nassari
Prof Mica Nava
Orson Nava
Dr Marta Rabikowska
Dr Ashwani Sharma
Dr Michael Skey
Prof Corinne Squire
Arlington Trotman
Dr Abel Ugba
Dr Eric Woods
Erene Kaptani
Valeria Gianuzzi
Ruri Abe
Dr. Ali Ali - Choice and constraint: narratives of Iraqi refugees in Jordan
Dr. Alice Mukaka - Performing and Counter-Performing the Borders: Stories of Feminist Organising for Migrant Rights
Dr. Celine Centat - Politics of exclusion and the making of migrant identities in Europe
Dr. Frances Cetti - Terror and the figure of the refugee 
Dr. Mastoureh Fathi - Class narratives of Iranian Women Migrants in Britain
Dr. Rumana Hashem - Gender and armed conflict: the case of Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh
Dr. Jamie Hakim - Affect and Cultural Change: The Rise of Popular Zionism in the British Jewish Community after the ‘Six Day War’ (1967)
Helen Margaret - Leadbitter Meeting the health care and support needs of refugee and asylum seeking families with particular reference to the impact of illness and disability on the young people within the family unit
Lynn Mhlanga - Presumption of guilt: criminalisation and marginalisation of migrant communities in the global war on terror
Dr. Nicola Samson - Narratives of Belonging: Life Histories of Women in East London post Second World War
Dayjour Sefre - Refugee experiences in education: A comparative study of Iranian and Afghani pupils in London’s secondary schools.
Mary Sutton - From solidarity to sanctuary: refugees’ experiences with church communities
Dr Helen Taylor - Landscapes of Belonging: the Meaning of Home for Cypriot Refugees in London 
Steve Thorpe Inter-generational Dynamics in Protracted Urban Exile: Southern Sudanese Refugees in Cairo

Dr Diana Yeh - Beyond (British) – Chineseness: The Politics and Poetics of Art and Migration in Multi-ethnic Contexts
Dr. Tahir Zaman - The Noble Sanctuary: Islamic traditions and Iraqi refugees in Syria

Funded Research Projects

EUBorderscapes, financed though the EU’s 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development, is an international research project that tracks and interprets conceptual change in the study of borders. It is a large-scale project with a consortium that includes 22 partner institutions from 17 different states, including several non-EU countries. The EUBorderscapes project studies conceptual change in relation to fundamental social, economic, cultural and geopolitical transformations that have taken place in the past decades. In addition, major paradigmatic shifts in scientific debate, and in the social sciences in particular, will also be considered. State borders are the frame of reference, rather than ethnographic/anthropological boundaries. However, this approach emphasises the social significance and subjectivities of state borders while critically interrogating “objective” categories of state territoriality and international relations. The research  is not only focused at the more general, at times highly abstract, level of conceptual change but also compares and contrasts how different and often contested conceptualisations of state borders (in terms of their political, social, cultural and symbolic significance) resonate in concrete contexts at the level of everyday life.

CMRB's Role 
CMRB's Professor Nira Yuval-Davis is co-ordinating work package 9 of the project - Borders, Intersectionality and the Everyday. The central objective of the work package has been to promote hitherto neglected areas of border research agendas that address lived, experienced and intersectional (e.g. gender, age, ethnicity) aspects of state borders. Situated intersectional everyday bordering perspective has analysed discursive, practical and interpretational categories that reflect issues of citizenship, identity and transnational migration. This work package also explores how everyday bordering affect groups with regard to gender, race, citizenship, socio-economic status and sexuality. The comparative perspective encompasses in-depth case studies that involve internal Schengen borders (UK/France) and the external EU border (Finland/Russia). Another focus of the WP9 research has been everyday bordering in Metropolitan cities (London, Barcelona, St. Petersburg). In addition, the WP9 research has carried out a comparative research (UK, Hungary, Finland) of Roma and everyday bordering. As part of CMRB's involvement in the EUBORDERSCAPES project, they have also produced a film called 'Everyday Borders' (dir. Orson Nava). It examines the impact of the 2014 Immigration Act on British society, exploring the way the 'border' is increasingly entering into everyday life. It can be viewed here.

Working alongside Professor Yuval-Davis will be:

Dr. Kathryn Cassidy, Senior Research Fellow -

Dr. Georgie Wemyss, Senior Research Fellow -

Dr. Jamie Hakim, Research Assistant -

All can be contacted on + 44 (0) 208 223 2399 or + 44 (0) 208 223 2399

Twitter: @CMRBEUBorders

Facebook: CMRB EUBorderscapes

University of Eastern Finland • Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen Centre for Border Research • Middle East Technical University, Center for Black Sea and Central Asia • Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Sciences • Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona • University of Tromsø • The Queen’s University of Belfast • Ben Gurion University of the Negev • Umeå University • University of Bergamo • University of Gdansk • V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University • Leibniz-Institute for Regional Development and Structural Planning • Centre for Population, Poverty and Public Policy Studies, Luxembourg • Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Pacte / Université Joseph Fourier • Research Centre for Economic and Regional Studies of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences • Centre for Independent Social Research, St. Petersburg • University of Helsinki • Centre for Advanced Study Sofia

Findings from the research project can be read here.

This is an ESRC funded series.

This is an ESRC research project which brings together theatre and social sciences in the study of the lives and identities of Refugees.
Directed by Professor Nira-Yuval Davis it investigates refugee identities and social actions by using an innovative methodology of Playback and Forum theatre performances and workshops run by research fellow Erene Kaptani while working with four refugee groups in London. 
The research aims to explore constructions and politics of identity and belonging among refugee communities in London. These Identity constructions are narrated and performed during interactive community theatre events and consequent reflections in several community centres in London – Kosovan, Kurdish, Somali and a mixed refugee course. For this purpose the research project has used, as its main methodological techniques, two experimental theatre techniques, Playback and Forum Theatre, which allow participants to reflect on the performance, intervene in it and explore in the performance alternative strategies of social action. The research examines crucial situations of the refugees' lives since coming to Britain, highlights conflicts between constructions of self, community and society, and explores modes of identity authorization and resistance involved in the multiplex processes of settlement in London and integration into British society. Of particular interest have been the roles of community organizations, statutory agents and the state.



Sponsored by CMRB, the Runnymede Trust and the Centre for Palestine Studies, London Middle East Institute, SOAS, this series has been constructed as an open-ended forum for dialogue between academics, activists and interested parties differently situated across the globe. The editors will consider all submissions that explore any aspect of how anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim racisms and the question of Palestine/Israel intersect, from within an anti-racist normative framework.

Published 14 September 2015

Nira Yuval-Davis and Jamie Hakim, Anti-Jewish and Anti-Muslim Racisms and the Question of Palestine/Israel Series Introduction

Antony Lerman, ‘The “New Anti-Semitism'''

Sami Zubaida, 'Varieties of "Islamophobia" and its targets'

Hilary Aked, ‘The Undeniable Overlap: Right-wing Zionism and Islamophobia’

Helga Embacher and Jan Ryback, ‘Anti-Semitism in Muslim Communities and Islamophobia in the Context of the Gaza War 2014: The Example of Austria and Germany’

Annabelle Sreberny, ‘The Idea of Jewish Anti-Semitism and Recuperating the “Semites”’

Keith Kahn-Harris, ‘The Interplay between Internal and External Factors in the Stimulation of Intra-Jewish conflict over Israel and Antisemitism’

Stefano Bellin, ‘How Should We Speak About the Jews and the Palestinians? Constructing a Non-Racist Space for Criticism’

Rumana Hashem and Paul Vernon Dudman, (2016). “Paradoxical narratives of transcultural encounters of the “other”: Civic engagement with refugees and migrants in London.” Transnational Social Review. DOI: 10.1080/21931674.2016.1186376.

Norbert MBU-MPUTU, Les grenouilles incirconcis, suivi de Les tortues circonspectes, Guerres et prospectives de paix en République Démocratique du Congo (Pamphlet), Newport, Paperback.

In collaboration, Are you Happy with That? (Refugees Writings in Wales), Swansea, Hafan Books, 2014.

Mbu-Mputu, N. & Katya Kasereka, D., Bamonimambo (the Witnesses). Rediscovering Congo and Wales Common History, Newport, South People’s Projects, 2014.

Saey, Sarah & Skey, Michael (2015) The politics of trans/national belonging: A study of the experiences of second-generation Egyptians during a period of socio-political change in Egypt (Migration Studies)

Skey, Michael (2015) ‘Mindless markers of the nation’: The routine flagging of nationhood across the visual environment (Sociology)

Skey, Michael (2014) ‘How do you think I feel? It’s my country’: Belonging, entitlement and the politics of immigration, Political Quarterly, 85(3), 326-332.

Skey, Michael (2014) ‘What nationality he is doesn’t matter a damn!’: Football, mediated identities and (conditional) cosmopolitanism, National Identities

Skey, Michael (2014) Boundaries and belonging: Dominant ethnicity and the place of the nation in a changing world in Jackson, J & Molokotos-Liederman, L (eds), Nationalism & Boundaries, Routledge, London

Skey, Michael (2014) Media, representation, imagination: Time to move beyond the ‘Holy Trinity’?, European Journal of Communication, 29(4): 495-515

Skey, Michael (2014) The mediation of nationhood: Communicating the world as a world of nations, Communication Theory, 24(1): 1-20