Dr Leah Bassel

Associate Professor

BA and MA (McGill), DPhil (Oxon), ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (Oxford)Leah Bassel

Room: Attenborough Tower 503
Tel: +44 (0)116 252 2730 (direct line)
Email: lb235@le.ac.uk

Research interests

Leah joined the department in 2011 as New Blood Lecturer in Sociology.

She was previously lecturer in Sociology at City University London (2008-11) and held Postdoctoral Research Fellowships at the Refugee Studies Centre/Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford funded by the ESRC and with the Group for the Study of Ethnicity, Racism, Migration and Exclusion at the Institute of Sociology, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium.

She completed her DPhil From Refugee Woman to Citizen: The Politics of Integration in France and Canada at the University of Oxford where she was a Commonwealth Scholar. She also holds a B.A. and M.A. from McGill University, Canada, in Political Science.

Before studying at Oxford Leah was an emergency outreach worker in Paris where she provided humanitarian assistance to asylum seekers, and initiated and organised a circus camp project for refugee youth that then became an annual event.

Her research interests are in three areas:

1. Gender and migration

Leah's work focuses on gender and migration, particularly the politics of refugee women's integration. She has examined these questions by juxtaposing highly mediatized debates over issues such as the headscarf and religious arbitration with the experiences of Muslim migrant women.

2. Minority women in tough times

Leah is currently studying the effects of economic crisis on minority women's activism in anti-poverty and asylum/immigration in non-governmental organisations in the UK and France.

3. Media and the Riots

Following a public symposium she co-organized in Birmingham on the August 2011 disturbances, Leah has written a report on 'Media and the Riots' in collaboration with the Citizen Journalism Educational Trust. [Click here to access the report] [Click on this link for press coverage of the report by The Guardian] [Click on this link for press coverage of the report by The Voice] [Click on this link to view evidence given to the Leveson Enquiry]

A selection of media coverage about this work is available.

Leicester Migration Network

Leah co-established and convenes the Leicester Migration Network. This interdisciplinary initiative brings together over 70 colleagues from across the university and the city. [Click on this link for more information about the network]

Supervision interests and Current Students

Leah is interested in supervising doctoral work in the following areas: Refugee and migration studies (particularly with a focus on gender and migration), comparative political sociology, citizenship and integration, national and transnational political participation of migrants, intersectionality.

Find out more about applying for a PhD

She supervises the following students:

Zakaria Sajir, 'How Local-level Political and Discursive Opportunities Shape the Degree of Political Integration of Third Country Nationals: The Case of Moroccan Communities Residing in European Cities'.  College of Social Science PhD scholarship.  Co-supervised with Dr Laura Morales (Department of Politics and International Relations)

Mirjam Twigt, ' Transnational Spaces: A Comparative Study of Diasporic Constructions of Home and Belonging among Iraqi refugees.' College of Social Science PhD Scholarship. Co-supervised with Professor Helen Wood (Department of Media and Communication)

Full list of publications

Current research projects

1. The UK citizenship Process: understanding immigrants' experiences

Research team: Leah Bassel (PI), David Bartram (CoI), Barbara Misztal (CoI), Pierre Monforte (CoI), Kamran Khan (Research Associate).

Duration: September 2013-August 2017.

Funder: Economic and Social Research Council (ES/K010174/1), Amount awarded: £439,095 (FEC value).

Project website: http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/sociology/research/uk-citizenship-process

This project analyses  the ‘assimilationist turn’ in British immigration and integration policies, through a focus on immigrants’ lived experience of one of its principal instruments, the ‘citizenship process’. Studies to date have examined only one or two parts of the ‘citizenship process’, meaning the tests themselves, the citizenship ceremonies, the preparation courses many immigrants take beforehand, as well as the consequences of the tests for those to whom it is addressed. This project will adopt a more comprehensive approach to these issues, examining the lived experiences of the citizenship process as a whole via interviews with people about their experiences with preparation courses and their participation in the citizenship tests and ceremonies in Leicester and London. To analyse the effects of the process on the longer term, statistical analysis of survey data will also be undertaken. The overall goal is to learn about immigrants' perceptions and experiences of this process, to understand how it affects their sense of belonging, political participation and subjective well-being (happiness).

2. Minority women's activism in tough times

Project website: http://www.minoritywomenandausterity.com/

In this cross-national comparative research project, Leah and her co-Principal Investigator (Akwugo Emejulu, University of Edinburgh) explore the effects of economic crisis on minority women’s activism in anti-poverty and asylum/immigration non-governmental organisations in the UK and France. In particular, they investigate how the on-going economic crisis influences the ability of minority and migrant women to use their intersectional identities and experiences of multiple discrimination as a resource for political activism and mobilisation. This research has given rise to a briefing paper entitled ‘Between Scylla and Charybdis: Enterprise and Austerity as a Double Hazard for Non-Governmental Organisations in France and the UK’. [Click on this link to go to the briefing paper]

A first Knowledge Exchange event entitled: ‘Whose Crisis Counts? Minority Women, Austerity and Solidarity in France and the UK’ was held on 11th June 2013 at the Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland, University of Edinburgh, which brought together 35 participants from the third sector, local and national government and academia. [Click on this link for more information about the event]

A second Knowledge exchange event entitled: '21st Century London Outcasts. Austerity and its Impact on Refugee Families Living in London' was held on 5th February 2014.  It was organised in collaboration with the Centre for Social Justice and Change and MA in Refugee Studies, University of East London.  For more information about the event please click here:  http://www.uel.ac.uk/csjc/documents/21st-century-outcases.pdf

Associated funding for this research:

  • British Academy Small Grant (January 2013 to June 2014, £9K).
    The project was featured in the British Academy's Annual Report for 2014/15:
    http://www.britac.ac.uk/about/annualrep/index.cfm in the section on Research Programmes.

  • Centre for Education for Race Equality in Scotland, University of Edinburgh (2011-present, £6K)
  • College of Social Science Research Development Fund, University of Leicester (2011-2012, £1K)
3. Ethnicity, recession and austerity in Scotland

Research team: Dr Filip Sosenko (School of the Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University, PI), Dr Gina Netto (School of the Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University), Dr Akwugo Emejulu (Moray House School of Education, The University of Edinburgh) and Dr Leah Bassel

Funder: Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights, Glasgow, Scotland, £7K.

In February 2013 the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights commissioned a research team led by Dr Filip Sosenko (Heriot-Watt University) to conduct a ‘snapshot’ of the views and experiences of Glasgow residents from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds regarding the current period of recession and austerity. The project’s aim was to create a better understanding of the impact of recession and austerity on local minority ethnic communities, including issues around employment instability, labour market exclusion, changes in household income, cuts to services and welfare reform. The research is a small scale qualitative study which focused on the experiences of three groups from Scottish Pakistani/Asian, Chinese and Black African/Somali communities. It revealed wide-ranging issues affecting the lives and experiences of men and women. [Click on this link for more information] [Click on this link to access the final report In It Together?]

External Profile

Event Organisation and Participation:

  • Co-organiser of a BSA Race and Ethnicity Study Group Conference entitled "Mapping the Field: Contemporary Theories of Race, Racism and Ethnicity". [Click on this link for more information]
  • Stream organiser (Asylum After Empire) with Luncy Mayblin at the BSA Theory Group Conference on 4-5 July 2013 (at the Birmingham Midland Institute). [Click on this link to find out more]
  • Keynote address entitled 'Paradoxes of Protection: Gender at the Borders’ at the Law on the Edge conference organized by the Canadian Law and Society Association and the Law and Society Association of Australia and New Zealand, University of British Columbia, Faculty of Law, Vancouver, 1-4 July 2013. [Click on this link to find out more]
  • Invited speaker, semi-plenary: 'Gender, Sexuality and The Politics Of Borders’, Council for European Studies 20th Annual Conference for Europeanists, ‘Crisis and Contingency: States of (In)stability’, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, 25-27 June 2013.
  • ‘Our Leicester: Understanding a Multicultural City’, ESRC Festival of Social Science Event, November 2012. Project team: John Williams - Project leader, Sociology, Leah Bassel, Marc Scully - School of Historical Studies and Leicester Migration Network. Young people in Leicester explored their experiences of multiculturalism and its challenges at ‘Our Leicester: Understanding a Multicultural City’. The event featured a series of workshops and an instant survey. The participating young people put together a Youth Manifesto for a successful multicultural city that was presented to the deputy city mayor, councillor Rory Palmer. [Click on this link to find out more]
  • Invited speaker at a roundtable discussion in Paris organised by the French NGO 'Coordination for the Reception of Asylum Seeker Families' (Coordination d’Accueil des Familles Demandeuses Asile or CAFDA), 2011.
  • Co-organiser: English 'Riots': Civic Responses and Sociological Perspectives, 15 October 2011. [Click on this link to find out more]
  • Co-organiser Citizenship and Human Rights Seminar, City University and the Open University which took place at Birkbeck College, February 2010.
  • Keynote Panel: 'After Human Rights?' Co-chaired with Engin Isin. Keynote Speakers: Costas Douzinas (Birkbeck College), Conor Gearty (London School of Economics), Adam Weiss (Advice on Individual Rights in Europe Centre). [Click on this link to see the podcast]

Current teaching

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

While a lecturer at City University London, Leah won the award for Best Lecturer in the Sociology Department 2008-9 and was nominated twice for the Student Voice Award.

Current administrative duties

  • Deputy Director, Sociology Research Cluster

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