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Lecturer, Director of Open Learning Initiative (OLIve)

Feminist Research Group, Centre for Narrative Research, Centre for Migration, Refugees and Belonging

Aura Lounasmaa is a lecturer in the School of Social Sciences Foundation programme, Psychosocial  Studies and Life Stories in the Jungle short course. She is a Research Fellow in the Centre for Narrative Research. 

    Dr Lounasmaa is a lecturer in Social Sciences and the director of the Erasmus+ funded Open Learning Initiative (OLIve) Course for refugees and asylum seekers at the University of East London. She is also a research fellow at the Centre for Narrative Research.

    Aura is a lecturer in the School of Social Sciences, teaching on the foundations programme and in psychosocial studies. She is also a member of teaching staff on Life Stories in the Jungle short course in the Calais refugee camp.

    Aura's PhD research is on Moroccan women's NGO activism. In it she examined the activism and discursive strategies of rights-based and faith-based women's organisations in Morocco. Her current research interests include ethics and methodologies of refugee activism and education.

    Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


    Dr Lounasmaa is researching forced migrant access to higher education, narrative methods, participatory research with forced migrants and civil society activism. Her PhD focused on women's NGOs' political discourses in Morocco.

    Research Field 1:
    Forced migrant access to higher education

    Research Field 2:
    Participatory and narrative research methods


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    Lounasmaa, Hall and Squire (2019) ‘From margin to centre? Practising new
    forms of European politics in the Calais “Jungle”’ in Cantat, C., Sevinin, E, Maczynska,
    E. and Birey, T. (eds) Challenging the Political Across Borders: Migrants’ and
    Solidarity Struggles, Budapest: Central European University Publishers Ch. 4,

    Donà, G., Esin, C., &
    Lounasmaa, A. (2019). Qualitative Research in Refugee Studies. In P. Atkinson,
    S. Delamont, A. Cernat, J.W. Sakshaug, & R.A. Williams (Eds.), SAGE Research
    Methods Foundations. doi: 10.4135/9781526421036849022

    Lounasmaa, A. and Esenowo, I. with OLIve course students (2019)
    ‘Education is Key to Life: the importance of education from the perspective of
    displaced learners’, Forced Migration Review 60 (March 2019) pp. 41-43

    Co-editor: Calais authors (2017) Voices from the ‘Jungle’: stories from
    the Calais refugee camp, London: Pluto

    Lounasmaa, A. (2016) ‘Breaking down dichotomies in the narratives of
    women’s activism in Morocco’ in Schwabenland C., Lange, C., Onyx, J. &
    Nakagawa, S. (ed) The role of CSOs in women’s emancipation: challenging or
    reinforcing the status quo? Policy Press

    Brannlund, Kovacic and Lounasmaa (2013) ‘Trialogue on narrative research
    and translation’, Narrative Works, 3(2) autumn 2013 (

    Breaking down dichotomies in the narratives of women’s activism in Morocco, in Schwabenland, Lange, Onyx and Nakagawa, Women's emancipation and civil society organisations: challenging or maintaining the status quo?

    Lounasmaa, A.. 2016. Policy Press.

    'Narratives in/of Translations: A Trialogue on Translating Narratives Cross-Culturally', Narrative Works

    Brannlund, Kovacic and Lounasmaa. 2013.


    Centre for Applied and Performing Arts seed funding 2018, Creative Spaces and Belonging

    Winner of Most Inclusive Teaching Practices award at University of East London 2018 for the Open Learning Initiative (OLIve) course for refugees and asylum seekers

    Erasmus+ KA3 Refugees Into Education 2 – Open Learning Initiative, 2018-2020 with Central European University (PI), University of Vienna and University of Thessaloniki

    Global Research Challenge Fund, Refugee university education in Jordan: effects on education and employment progression, social integration, and personal wellbeing” 2018-2019

    Erasmus+ KA3 Refugees Into Education – Open Learning Initiative, 2016-2018, with Central European University (PI) and University of Vienna

    Participant at British Council funded WISH Early Career workshop, Cape Town October 2017

    Winner of Guardian University Awards 2017: Student Diversity and widening participation, Life Stories course in the Calais Jungle refugee camp

    UEL Impact funding 'Creating multimodal narratives in the Calais jungle’ 2016

    UEL Civic Engagement funding 'Hard Edges - Lives behind the numbers' 2015

    Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences Doctoral Scholarship 2012-2014

    Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences Postgraduate Scholarship 2011 – 2012




    Psychosocial studies dissertations
    Foundation in Social Sciences
    PhD supervision
    Open Learning Initiative (OLIve) course for refugees and asylum seekers