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Dr Maja Korac-Sanderson

Reader in refugee and migration studies

Feminist research group, Centre for Social Justice and Change , Social Sciences

Maja Korac-Sanderson research is in the fields of gender, conflict, displacement and development. She teaches in MA Refugee Studies, MA Conflict, Displacement & Human Security, and BA International Development. 

    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).

    A founding member and co-director 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
    Affiliation to the Centre on Human Rights in Conflict, School of Business and Law, UEL
    Affiliation to 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.

    Joint Leader of MA Refugee Studies Programme

    Joint Leader of 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

    • Refugee 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
    • New Chinese migration to transition societies and developing countries
    • Migration to Europe: Balkan Route and its Transition Societies
    • Ethnographic research methodologies

    Maja Korac-Sanderson’s research focuses on:

    Gender, conflict, and gender based violence

    The special area of interest within this strand of 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.

    Migration, diversity, and social inclusion

    The special area of interest within this strand of Maja’s research is 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. The particular focus of Maja’s research in this area is the role of bridging social links, that migrants understood as social agents and gender actors, establish with local populations in receiving societies.

    Migration to transition societies: Chinese in Serbia

    This ongoing research examines 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

    Migration to Europe: Balkan Route and its Transit Societies

    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.



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    Single Authored Books, Edited Volumes and Journal Special Issues

    2009     Remaking Home: Experiences of Reconstructing Life, Place and Identity in Rome and Amsterdam. Berghahn Books, Oxford (1-184).
    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).
    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).
    1998     Linking Arms: Women and war in post-Yugoslav sates, Women and Nonviolence Series, No. 6. Uppsala: Life & Peace Institute (p.1-75).
    1994     Special Issue on the Former Yugoslavia. Guest Editor, Special Issue of Refuge, Vol. 14, No. 3, York University Publications (p. 1-35).
    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).


    2012    Serbian translation of Remaking Home: Experiences of Reconstructing Life, Place and Identity in Rome and Amsterdam (2009. Berghahn Books, Oxford). Belgrade: Zavod za izdavanje udzbenika

    2008    Sinhalese translation of Feminists Under Fire: Exchanges Across War Zones. Co-editor with Wenona Giles, Malathi De Alwis, Edith Klain, Neluka Silva, Djurdja Knezevic, and Zarana Papic. (2003. Toronto: Between the Lines). Colombo: International Centre for Ethnic Studies

    2004    Croatian translation of  Feminists Under Fire: Exchanges Across War Zones. Co-editor with Wenona Giles, Malathi De Alwis, Edith Klain, Neluka Silva, Djurdja Knezevic, and Zarana Papic. (2003. Toronto: Between the Lines). Zagreb: Zenska Infoteka

    1992    Spanish translation of ‘Rural Woman in Public/Social Life: Their Position and Perceptions’. Zbornik matice srpske za drustvene nauke, Vol. 36, No. 86, 1989. (Anthology in Social Sciences; published in Serbo-Croatian), published in  Las mujeres ante los cambios producidos en los paises del Este y la Union Sovietica. Duca Aranguren (Ed.). Madrid: Instituto de la Mujer.

    Papers in Refereed Journals

    2018    'Feminists Against Sexual Violence in War: The Question of Perpetrators and Victims Revisited'. Social Sciences (PDF).

    2016    ‘KeyStories – Tales on geographies, maps, and methodologies of bordering’. Critica Contemporanea, Revista de teoriapolitica. 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: 431-444 

    2013    ‘Chinese traders in Serbia: Gender opportunities, translocal family strategies and transnational mobility’, Ars&Humanities, special issue Many Faces of Migration; VII(2): 86-98

    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).

    2009    ‘Policy, agency, and intercultural dialogue: Experiences of refugees from war-torn Yugoslavia in Italy’, in Mondi Migranti Issue no. 3, November-December

    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).

    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).

    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).

    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).

    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).  

    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).

    1992.   ‘Rural Woman in Her Time of Leisure ‑ Consequences of Development’. Sociologija, Vol. 34, No. 1. (Sociology – the journal of the former Yugoslav Sociological Association; published in Serbo- Croatian).

    1989.   ‘Rural Woman in Public/Social Life: Their Position and Perceptions’. Zbornik matice srpske za drustvene nauke, Vol. 36, No. 86, (Anthology in Social Sciences; published in Serbo-Croatian).

    1988.    ‘Youth of Jalovik Village ‑ Their Position and Perceptions’. Sociologija sela, Vol. 28, No. 101‑102 (Rural Sociology, published in Serbo-Croatian).

    Chapters in Books

    2017   ‘Bordering and Rebordering 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. Available at:

    2016   ‘Citizenship and Emplacement: Processes and practices of inclusion of newcomers’, in Kostic, Roland, L. Bennich-Björkman, and B. Likic-Brboric (eds) Citizens 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  ‘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

    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)

    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   ‘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  ‘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).

    1998  ‘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   ‘Rural development and education of rural women’. Europäische landfrauen auf neuen wegen. Doris Janshen, Mathilde Schmitt (Eds.), Essen: Universität Gesamthochschule Essen. Bi-lingual       German-English volume. (p. 147-156)

    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).

    Other Published Papers

    2011   ‘Ill-informed or entrepreneurial? Chinese traders in Serbia’, e-International Relations October 16

    1999  ‘Belgrade Women in Black Against War, Nationalism and Violence’. Outlook, Vol. 37, No. 6. Vancouver: Canadian Jewish Outlook Society. (p.11-12).1993 ‘Women in the Balkan Wars’, Drawing the           Peace Divided, Peace Register, Ken Coates (Ed.). ENDpapers 23, Nottingham: Spokesman for the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation. (p. 98-104).

    1993    ‘Nationalism och krig på Balkan – kvinnornas situation’. Vi mänskor, Vol. 30, No. 1. Göteborg: Svenska Kvinnors Vänsterförbund (p. 29-30).

    1992    ‘A Bloody Disorder’, European Labour Forum, Ken Coates (Ed.),Winter, No. 9. Nottingham: Spokesman Bertrand Russell House. (p. 25-28). 

    Book Reviews

    2008    Review of Dubravka Žarkov The Body of War: Media, Ethnicity, and Gender in Break-up of Yugoslavia. Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press. Nations and Nationalism, 14(4): 830-832.




    Scholarships and Awards
    • Mary McEwan Memorial Award, York University, Canada
    • Noami Harder Award, York University, Canada
    • Visiting Research Scholar Fellowship, Centre for Refugee Studies, York University, Canada
    • York University Scholarship, Canada.
    • Wainwright Trust Fellowship, Held at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London
    • The British Council Scholarship, Held at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London
    • Webb Memorial Scholarship, Ruskin College, Oxford


    Teaching and Supervision

             Current supervisions:

    • Esther Afari-Mensah PhD student, School of Social Sciences, UEL, dissertation – Migrant detention as a public health challenge: A qualitative study
    • Margaret Adyero Apwonyokwe, PhD student, School of Social Sciences, UE L, dissertation – Live experiences of selected Acoli ethnic groups in Uganda: agency and victimhood through war and forced displacement.

            Past supervisions:

    • Amira Ahmed, Ph.D. student, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, UEL, dissertation: Aliens and Locals: Maids in Contemporary Egypt.

    • 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