Dr Leah Bassel

Associate Professor

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

Room: Office 1.01, 107-111 Princess Road East
Tel: +44 (0)116 252 2730 (direct line)
Email: lb235@le.ac.uk

Personal details

BA, MA, DPhil, ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship

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

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

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

Administrative duties

  • Deputy Director, Sociology Research Cluster
  • Staff Development Committee

External Profile

Leicester Migration Network

I co-established and convene 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]

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 organised 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]


Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

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



Bassel, Leah. 2017. The Politics of Listening: Possibilities and Challenges for Democratic Life. Palgrave.

Bassel, Leah and Akwugo Emejulu. 2017. The Politics of Survival. Minority Women, Activism and Austerity in France and Britain. Bristol: Policy Press.

Bassel, Leah (2012) Refugee Women: Beyond Gender versus Culture (Routledge). [Click on this link for more information via publisher] [Click on this link for review in Gender, Place and Culture] [Click on this link to hear a recording of the book launch event at UEL]

Debates over the headscarf and niqab, so-called 'sharia-tribunals', Female Genital Operations and forced marriages have raged in Europe and North America in recent years, raising the question – does accommodating Islam violate women’s rights? The book takes issue with the terms of this debate. It contrasts debates in France over the headscarf and in Canada over religious arbitration with the lived experience of a specific group of Muslim women: Somali refugee women. The challenges these women eloquently describe first-hand demonstrate that the fray over accommodating culture and religion neglects other needs and engenders a democratic deficit.

In Refugee Women: Beyond Gender versus Culture, new theoretical perspectives recast both the story told and who tells the tale. By focusing on the politics underlying how these debates are framed and the experiences of women at the heart of these controversies, women are considered first and foremost as democratic agents rather than actors in the 'culture versus gender' script. Crucially, the institutions and processes created to address women’s needs are critically assessed from this perspective.

Breaking from scholarship that focuses on whether the accommodation of culture and religion harms women, Bassel argues that this debate ignores the realities of the women at its heart. In these debates, Muslim women are constructed as silent victims. Bassel pleads compellingly for a consideration of women in all their complexity, as active participants in democratic life. The book will appeal to students and scholars throughout the social sciences, particularly of sociology, political science and women's studies.

Journal articles

  • 2017. Leah Bassel and Akwugo Emejulu. ‘Caring Subjects: Migrant Women and the Third Sector in England and Scotland’ Ethnic and Racial Studies special issue edited by Umut Erel and Tracey Reynolds Migrant Mothers Challenging Racialised Citizenship. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2017.1334930
  • Emejulu, Akwugo and Leah Bassel (2015) 'Minority Women, Austerity and Activism', Race & Class 57(2).
  • Bassel, Leah (2014) 'Contemporary Grammars of Resistance: Two French Social Movements', Sociology. 48(3), 537-553. DOI: http://soc.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/10/31/0038038513501022
  • Bassel, Leah and Eleonore Lepinard (co-editors) (2014) 'Introduction: The Theory and Politics of Intersectionality in Comparative Perspective', Politics & Gender 10(1), pp. 115-117.
  • Bassel, Leah and Akwugo Emejulu (2014) 'Solidarity under Austerity: Intersectionality in France and the United Kingdom', Politics & Gender 10(1), pp. 130-136.
  • Bassel, Leah (2013) 'Speaking and Listening: The 2011 English Riots', Sociological Research Online, 18(4)12. www.socresonline.org.uk/18/4/12.html
  • Bassel, Leah and Lloyd, Cathie (2011) 'Rupture or Reproduction? "New" Citizenship in France', French Politics9(1), pp. 21-49.
  • Bassel, Leah and Emejulu, Akwugo (2010) 'Struggles for Institutional Space in France and the United Kingdom: Intersectionality and the Politics of Policy', Politics and Gender6(4), December, pp. 517-544.
  • Bassel, Leah (2010) 'Intersectional Politics at the Boundaries of the Nation-State', Ethnicities10(2), pp. 155-180.
  • Bassel, Leah (2008) 'Citizenship as Interpellation: Refugee Women and the State', Government and Opposition43(2), Spring, pp. 293-314. [Click on this link for online access via publisher]
  • Bassel, Leah and Lloyd, Cathie (2008) 'Bridging Differences or Building Silences? Parité and the Representation of "Women" in French Political Life', Journal of Contemporary European Studies16(1), pp. 99-110.
  • Bassel, Leah (2007) 'Refugee Women and La République: Participation in the French Public Sphere', Parliamentary Affairs60(3), pp. 467-481.

Book chapters

  • 2017. Akwugo Emejulu and Leah Bassel. ‘Resisting Epistemic Violence: Women of Colour, Austerity and Activism’ in The Violence of Austerity. Vickie Cooper and David Whyte (eds.). London: Pluto Press.

For the Pluto Press blog on this chapter please see:


  • 2017. Akwugo Emejulu and Leah Bassel. ‘Whose Crisis Counts? Women of Colour, Austerity and Activism in France and Britain’ in Gender, politics and the crisis in Europe. Emanuela Lombardo and Johanna Kantola (eds.) London: Palgrave.
  • 2016. ‘Intersectionality’ invited contribution to Naples, Nancy (ed.), Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Gender and Sexuality Studies. DOI: 10.1002/9781118663219.wbegss430
  • Bassel, Leah (2015) 'Acting "As" and Acting "As If": Two Approaches to the Politics of Race and Migration', in Solomos, John and Murji, Karim (eds.) Theories of Race and Ethnic Relations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
  • Bassel, Leah (2008) 'Silencing to Protect: The Debate over Women's Rights in France and Canada', in Bhambra, Gurminder K. and Shilliam, Robbie (eds.) Silencing Human Rights: Critical Engagements with a Contested Project (London: Palgrave).

Other publications

  • Final project report and executive summary 'The UK Citizenship Process: Exploring Migrants' Experiences', concluding ESRC-funded project:


  • 2016.  ‘The Casey Review on Opportunity and Integration: Re-Inventing the Wheel’ Discover Society Rapid Response.  December 9. http://discoversociety.org/2016/12/09/the-casey-review-on-opportunity-and-integration-re-inventing-the-wheel/
  • 2016. ‘Refugee Women’ (sole-authored) and ‘Minority Women’s Activism in Tough Times’ (with Akwugo Emejulu).  Case Study Videos. SAGE Sociology Video Collection. www.sagepub.com/video
  • 2015. ‘Migrant women, belonging and citizenship’ Sociology Review 24(4): 18-21.
  • Andrews, K., L. Bassel and A. Winter (2014).‘The British Sociological Association Race and Ethnicity Study Group Conference “Mapping the Field: Contemporary Theories of Race, Racism and Ethnicity”’, Ethnic and Racial Studies 37(10).
  • 2014. ‘Intersectionality’ in issue on Group Inequality and Intersectionality. Maitreyee, e-bulletin of the Human Development and Capability Association (HDCA).  Editors: Emma Samman and José Manuel Roche.  No. 24, July 2014.  Please click here to access the e-bulletin https://hd-ca.org/maitreyee-e-bulletin-of-the-hdca
  • Sosenko, F., Netto, G., Emejulu, A. and Bassel, Leah (2013) 'In It Together? Perceptions on Ethnicity, Recession and Austerity in Three Glasgow Communities', Report, Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights, Glasgow. [Click on this link to download the report]
  • Bassel, Leah (2013). ‘The passport: is it the only way to say who we truly are? Social Worlds in 100 Objects, University of Leicester, September: http://www2.le.ac.uk/projects/social-worlds/all-articles/sociology/passport
  • Bassel, Leah (2013) ‘Making Research Work as a Public Good Requires a Mutually Reinforcing Process of Engagement’, Impact of Social Sciences blog, London School of Economics, June. [Click on this link to go to the blog online]
  • Emejulu, Akwugo and Bassel, Leah (2013) 'Between Scylla and Charybdis: Enterprise and Austerity as a Double Hazard for Non-Governmental Organisations in France and the UK', Briefing Paper Number 2, Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland, March. [Click on this link to download the briefing]
  • Bassel, Leah (2012) Media and the Riots: A Call For Action (Citizen Journalism Educational Trust).
  • 2010: Leah's work was cited in the United Nations Human Development Report 'The Real Wealth of Nations: Pathways to Human Development'. [Click this link to go to the report online]
  • Bassel, Leah (2005) 'Vive le Cirque! A French Initiative for Refugee Youth', Community Development Journal40(2), pp. 232-235.
  • Consultancy Report: 'Gender Dimensions of International Migration', Global Commission on International Migration (GCIM). Co-authored with Cathie Lloyd. Presented at 'Workshop on Gender and International Migration', GCIM, Geneva, Switzerland, March 2005.
  • Opinion Piece: 'Le Corps Féminin, Enjeu Politique' [The Female Body: A Political Battleground], Le Devoir, 25 February 2004. [Click this link to go to article online]


My research interests are in three areas:

1. Gender and migration

My work focuses on gender and migration, particularly the politics of refugee women's integration. I have 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

I am 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 I co-organised in Birmingham on the August 2011 disturbances, I have 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.

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, I along with my 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, we 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?]


I am 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

Current students

I supervise 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)

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Contact Details

School of Media, Communication and Sociology

Campus based courses
E: mcs-enquiries@le.ac.uk
T: +44(0)116 252 3863

Distance Learning Courses
E: css-dl@le.ac.uk
T: 0116 252 3755

Research degrees (campus-based and distance learning courses)
T: +44(0)116 252 2785
E: MCS-Research@le.ac.uk

University of Leicester
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United Kingdom

University of Leicester
107-111 Princess Road East
United Kingdom

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