Migration – Research Centers and Projects


Research Projects

Active research

Waylaid in Tijuana is a documentary film that explores how immigration policies adopted in Washington, DC reverberate just south of the border in Tijuana, Mexico. It features migrants and asylum seekers from Haiti and Central America, migration experts, government officials, and migrant advocates from the Tijuana/San Diego region who grapple with the consequences of these policies on a daily basis. This website provides clips from the film, information about screenings, and an updated set of resources on U.S. immigration policies and migrant advocacy. 

The Journeys Project features the long-distance journeys of dispossessed people — refugees, migrants and asylum seekers who have traveled far to escape persecution and grinding poverty. We examine their stories though a financial lens to better understand the costs and strategies involved in their journeys as well as the economic approaches they use when putting down roots in new surroundings. Lead research: Professor Kim Wilson.

The Refugees in Towns project (RIT) supports towns and urban neighborhoods in becoming immigrant- and refugee-friendly spaces that take full advantage of the benefits brought by refugees while finding ways to manage the inevitable challenges of immigrant integration. For more information, reach out to Professor Karen Jacobsen.

Religion and Security in Europe reviews the migration flows into Europe through Greece and focuses more specifically on the intersection of migration, religion, and security. The research analyzes how religion shapes real and perceived security needs and threats related to migration in Greece and Europe, as well as how the religion-security nexus has affected state durability and legitimacy in Greece. For more information, reach out to Elizabeth Prodromou and Marina Travayiakis. 

Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium (SLRC): SLRC focuses on state legitimacy, state capacity and livelihood trajectories and economic activity in conflict-affected situations in order to generate a stronger evidence based for those affected by conflict. This includes a qualitative analysis of migration in post-war northern Uganda.  Principal Investigators: Dyan Mazurana, Daniel Maxwell, Rachel Gordon, Teddy Atim, Anastasia Marshak, Elizabeth Stites. Publications can be found here 

Social connectedness, livelihoods and resilience in Complex Emergencies: Through a partnership with Mercy Corps, this research looks at the role of social connectedness in conflict displacement and recovery in South Sudan, examining the question of how humanitarian assistance can best support people’s strategies for coping and adapting to crises. Principal Investigators: Elizabeth Stites, Daniel Maxwell, Roxani Krystalli and Anastasia MarshakThe six publications from this project can be found here. 

Child Marriage in Humanitarian Settings: In conjunction with Save the Children Denmark, this new project looks at rates of child marriage among the displaced in South Sudan and northern Iraq, in conjunction with Save the Children Denmark. Principal Investigators: Dyan Mazurana, Elizabeth Stites, Kimberly Howe, Anastasia Marshak, Teddy Atim, Kinsey Spears and Dipali Anumol. Current publication: Addressing Data Gaps on Child, Early, and Forced Marriage in Humanitarian Settings 

Past Research

For past research specific to the Leir Institute, see here.

Building State Legitimacy: The substantive focus of this research was examining the role of legitimacy in the governance of conflict-affected or fragile states, and more specifically on how, in peacebuilding programs, perceptions of legitimacy intersect with political inclusion, provision of basic services, security sector governance and corruption in the criminal justice sector.

Migration Crisis and State Fragility: The substantive focus of this research project examines how current migration flows affect citizen perceptions of the state, and therefore, challenge the legitimacy of the state. The research team is focusing on two regions – Europe and the Americas – to investigate how state and local authorities are managing migration challenges, and how these challenges may be affecting the perceived legitimacy of such authorities in “transit” states such as Greece and Mexico.

Transit Migration and Deportation in the Americas (part of the above project) focuses on cities in Mexico that are grappling with intersecting flows of third-country migrants and Mexicans deported from the United States. The project entails mapping the origins, routes, and destinations of these displaced people; engaging local, national, and international stakeholders in dialogue about policy responses in the affected communities; and adapting lessons from existing research and other country experiences in the Mexican context. For more information, reach out to Professors Katrina Burgess and Karen Jacobsen.

Partnership on Youth, Migration and Resilience:  In collaboration with Save the Children US, this project offered a comparative analysis of youth migration in Bengaluru, India; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Vienna, Austria; and Kampala, Uganda between 2018 and 2019. Principal Investigators: Elizabeth Stites and Anastasia Marshak. The five publications from this project can be found here 

Growth Health and Governance in Karamoja, Uganda: Through a four-year project with USAID Uganda between 2014 and 2019, this project investigated gaps, challenges and opportunities to improve pastoralist systems and livelihoods in northeast Uganda, including an analysis of rural-to-urban migration. Principal Investigators: Andy Catley, Mesfin Molla, Raphael Lotira and Elizabeth Stites   

Promoting Agriculture, Health, and Alternative Livelihoods (PAHAL) in Nepal: Through a collaboration with Mercy Corps and USAID, this project focuses on improving food security, resilience, and livelihood for poor and marginalized communities in select areas of rural Nepal. It offered a specific focus on how the out-migration of men impacted food security. Publications can be found here 

Health and Security looked at the health and security threats that impact forcibly displaced persons, focusing on infectious disease. Even though refugees and involuntary migrants may be at increased risk for infectious diseases, the rate of transmission from these people to the general population is very low, and is often exaggerated, particularly in quarters promoting a broader anti-migrant agenda. Does the stigmatization associated with disease add to their already vulnerable situation? Are the legal and institutional mechanisms that seek to address the problem of stigmatization adequate? Principle investigators: Professors Ian Johnstone and Nahid Bhadelia.