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

Refugee camp

About us

The Centre for Migration, Refugees and Belonging  (CMRB) grew out of the Refugee Research Centre, which was founded in 2004. It is located in the Department of Social Sciences at the University of East London.


Our mission is to build knowledge and understanding of the related issues of migration, refugees and belonging. We aim to foster interdisciplinary conversations and provide a space for debate and creative thinking amongst academic, practitioners, activists, migrants, and refugees in order to make positive changes to society at large.  

About the Centre

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 University of East London prides itself in being a diverse, innovative and globally aware group of scholars, students and local and international community partners.

CMRB research seeks to engage with political and policy debates as well as theoretical concerns that have local and global relevance.

The work of CMRB is closely integrated with that of the Refugee Council Archive at UEL.

Core Activities


CMRB provides interdisciplinary, innovative and critical scholarship on the relationship between migration, refugee and belonging, including on the intersectional relationship between race, gender, and citizenship. 

The Centre supports scholarship and debates on contemporary issues of migration, refugees and belonging through the work of its members and by fostering partnerships between academics, policy makers, practitioners, activists and migrants from a wide range of backgrounds.


CMRB aims to integrate research and teaching programmes that are designed to support the capacity of students in academia, as practitioners and activists locally and globally.

Dissemination and impact

We aim to disseminate our work widely through publications, online information resources, media, and networks.


  • Sharon Hamilton - The Social Impacts of the Windrush Scandal on Families of the Windrush Generation (Doctoral Student)
  • Roxanne Nanton - Unaccompanied Minors and Covid-19, MA in Refugee Studies alumni and Refugee Council (Research Associate)
  • Jessica Oddy - Education across the Displacement Linear: Experiences of Displaced Adolescents (Doctoral Student)
  • Hannah Flint - (Development Studies and Administration Intern)

Research Projects

Gujarati Voices is a collaborative community-based project bringing together the UEL Archives, CMRB staff and UEL students to work with external partners and the Gujarati Community in the UK. Funded by UEL Public and Community Engagement Funding, "Roots and Changes – Gujarati Influences" comprises an oral history project, exhibition and event series to be held at both Brent Museum and Archives and at UEL in 2020. 

For more information on the Gujarati Archives, visit the Refugee Living Archive.

'Refugee University Education' is a collaborative, participatory and interdisciplinary project that aims to build capacity, promote interdisciplinary innovation and evaluate impact. Building on UEL’s existing ‘Life Stories’ higher education work and existing collaboration with the NGO Mosaik Education, and its educational work with refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, this research project funded through the Global Challenge Research Fund (2018-2019) has three main aims:

a) To support the innovative peer to peer “Guidance and Support’ programme implemented by Mosaik Education. The peer-to-peer mentoring programme uses student ambassadors to address information and psycho-social barriers to accessing higher education for refugees through a combination of academic guidance workshops, informative digital content and peer mentorship. Activities include online content of inspirational and informative advice for refugees interested in higher education; emblematic stories and story-questions to encourage exchange; guidance workshops on higher education options and how to evaluate them; and peer mentorship on programme and subject experiences.

b) To conduct evaluation research on the “Guidance and Support” programme, specifically about the impact of storytelling and co-construction of stories between students, but more generally about all the activities implemented, and the trajectories, barriers and access to higher education for refugee students participating in the “Guidance and Support” programme. Through participatory design methods that build sustainable research and education capacity among all stakeholders, UEL staff and students contribute by providing evidence-based research that addresses the challenges faced by refugees in DAC countries in the area of refugee education. Expanding on the existing UEL model that offers certified tailored trainings and courses to refugees, in collaboration with Mosaik Education, UEL staff and students facilitate the planning and implementing of dedicated workshops, and provide certified and/or credit-bearing training.

c) To strengthen national and international collaborations and exchange of innovative participatory best practices in the provision of support to overcome barriers to higher education for refugees through joint production of online materials, organisation of collaborative workshops and events and joint presentations and publications.

Learn more about the "Mosaik +UEL: University Partnerships Providing Tools for Student-Led Learning" that offers insights into the co-creation of digital e-learning platforms that apply Life Stories as a research and pedagogical tool for and with refugees.

Mapping the Rwandan Diaspora in Europe offers a comparative analysis of the diaspora engagement in the development of their country of origin. Sponsored by the International Organisation for Migration in 2019, the comparative analysis presents an overview of socio-demographic characteristics of the Rwandan diaspora in four European countries - Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The desk-review of individual countries mapping exercises examines convergences and divergences in current and planned engagements, knowledge and skills transfers, motivations, practices and barriers. It provides the evidence base for shaping diaspora engagement programme interventions in Rwanda, guiding the Government of Rwanda’s future strategies and policies enabling diaspora members to participate and contribute to the development of the country.

For more information contact CMRB co-director Giorgia Donà or visit the IOM site

EUBorderscapes, financed through 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 authorisation 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.

Read more



 Journal Articles

Winner of the 2019 Sage Sociology Prize for Innovation and Excellence:
Yuval-Davis, N. Wemyss, G. and Cassidy, K., 2018. ‘Everyday bordering, belonging and the re-orientation of British immigration legislation’. Sociology, 52(2): 228–244.

Other journal articles:

Book Chapters

Online Articles

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

  • 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


 June webinar: Depoliticising the Hostile Environment, 21 June 2021, 5pm 

The Centre for Migration, Refugees and Belonging is a founding member of Social Scientists against the Hostile Environment.

This Webinar seeks to address:

  • The Immigration Act 2020, following Brexit, which is promoted as being effective in preventing traffickers from profiting from the exploitation of those seeking refuge. 
  • The Independent Review of the Human Right Act launched 7 September, 2020 
  • The Sewell Report and its establishment

The speakers will include: 

  • Halima Begum
  • Hannah Jones
  • Frances Webber 

Register now


Prison system and anti-colonial struggle in Palestine voices from within Thursday 10 June 2021, 6pm

Our film and book club final event for the term: Prison System and Anti-colonial Struggle in Palestine. The event addresses the Israeli prison system and the role of women in anti-colonial struggle through a discussion of Nahla Abdo’s book “Captive Revolution”. The book shares critique against the persistence of racism in the Israel occupation of Palestine. 
Furthermore, the event includes the screening of the short film OBIDA. A documentary about the prison experience of Obida Akram Jawarba, who has been shot during a demonstration against the attack on Gaza at the entrance of Al Arroub refugee camp. 


  • Nahla Abdo: Professor of Sociology, Carleton University, Captive Revolution: Palestinian Women’s Anti-Colonial Struggle within the Israeli System
  • Asma Majed Jawabra: Lecturer at Alquds Bard College; Obida’s Cousin 

Afaf Jabiri, Programme Leader for Refugee Studies, UEL

Register now

Migration flyer

The event is organised by the CMRB affiliated Master in Refugee Studies and Master in Conflict, Displacement and Human Security.

Virtual launch of "Migration trajectories and transnational support within and beyond Europe", 3 December 2020, 19.00-20.30 (CET) 

You are cordially invited to the launch of "Migration trajectories and transnational support within and beyond Europe", the new Special Issue of the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, with contributions from CMRB members. 

The event will take place online on 3 December 19.00-20.30 (please note CET). 

Register now


Digital Education Storytelling Exhibition Launch @ Living Refugee Archive, Wednesday 15 July 2020, 5pm

The Centre for Migration, Refugees and Belonging (CMRB) is delighted to invite you to a talk where we will explore the Living Refugee Archive (LRA) digital archives and findings from our recent digital storytelling research project on the educational experiences of refugees in the Middle East. The event will feature talks from Paul Dudman, Prof. Giorgia Dona and Jessica Oddy.

Register here


Racism, policing and the politics of surveillance in times of pandemic, 6 July 2020 (online), 5pm - 6.30pm

The Centre for Migration, Refugees and Belonging, member of Social Scientists against the Hostile Environment (SSAHE) group, is delighted to announce that the next SSAHE webinar titled "Racism, policing and the politics of surveillance in times of pandemic", will take place online from 5pm to 6.30pm on 6 July 2020 (online). Please see the flyer for more information.

Register now


1st International Workshop on Research Methods and Approaches to Migration and Diaspora Studies from 30 June 2020 to 2 July 2020, online

Organised by the Centre for Diaspora Studies at the Central University of Gujarat, India, in collaboration with the Centre for Migration, Refugees and Belonging the 1st international workshop on Research Methods and Approaches to Migration and Diaspora Studies will take place online 30 June -  2 July 2020.

The program will be live streamed/recorded on the Facebook page of the Central University of Gujarat.

Find out more about the schedule and the flyer CDS CRRB 2020.


Refugee Week 2020: Asylum & Protection in the Wake of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Thursday 18 June 2020, 5pm - 7pm

To mark Refugee Week 2020, CMRB are co-hosting an online public event alongside United Against Inhumanity (UAI in the UK) and the International Centre for Eritrean Refugees and Asylum Seekers (ICERAS). 
The talk will feature a keynote speech from prominent refugee campaigner Lord Alf Dubs. The event will also commemorate the legacy and commitment to refugees of Mona Mahmoud, student in the CMRB affiliated Master in Conflict, Displacement and Human Security programme.

Register now


Webinar, 1 June 2020,  5pm - 8pm, Migrant Rights? From policies to politics in a post-Covid era. 

A panel consisting of Don Flynn, Adam Hanieh, Heaven Crawley and Eleonore Kofman and co-chaired by Nira Yuval-Davis and Rachel Humphris will consider the following and other questions:
What lessons are to be learnt from the earlier failure to advance a rights-base for immigration policy?
How will the current economic crisis impact on the rights of migrants? What might emerge for the rights agenda from the confused haze of Brexit and the Covid virus?
Has public reaction to the hostile environment scandal opened up space for an intersectional mobilisation in support of the rights of migrants?

For more information and to register, please go to the Eventbrite page. The webinar will be hosted online and joining instructions will be sent to registered attendees.


See our past events.