Belonging corner

Citizenship, Migration and Identity

About Us

When people use the word society, implicitly they usually have in mind a ‘national’ society, e.g. British society. But the boundaries of societies are much more fluid than terms of that sort imply, and debates on immigration and citizenship are therefore often contentious. We have well-established research programmes that seek to increase understanding of the ways people cross social boundaries, achieve membership (e.g. as new immigrants), define their position in multiple societies, and (especially for natives) build solidarity with people in minority groups. As a deeply multi-cultural city with large populations of established and recent immigrants, Leicester is particularly well placed for research on these issues.

Research Themes

Our research on citizenship, migration and identity covers areas such as:

  • Migration and happiness (subjective well-being)
  • Citizenship
  • Racism
  • Migration and collective memory
  • Genomics, genealogy and identity
  • Refugee women
  • Minority women’s activism
  • Sport and anti-racism
  • Diaspora and transnationalism
  • Diaspora, ethno-political identity and nationalism
  • Mobilization among refugees/asylum-seekers & undocumented immigrants
  • Europeanization
  • Female sex tourism
  • Forced migration

Leicester Migration Network

Our department also has strong links with the Leicester Migration Network which brings together a dynamic group of migration scholars from a range of fields across the University. A number of our staff are key members of the network which explores migratory phenomena in all their complexity, ranging from traditional cross-border movements to new forms of transnational flows and exchanges. Leicester is a city that continues to be shaped by its unique history of migration, and so provides a distinctive opportunity for academic research that is developed in partnership with members of the community.

Areas of PhD supervision

We welcome applications from prospective PhD students interested in topics that connect to any of the themes active in this cluster. Previous and current PhD projects in this field include:

  • How Local-level Political and Discursive Opportunities Shape the Degree of Political Integration of Third Country Nationals
  • Transnational Spaces: A Comparative Study of Diasporic Constructions of Home and Belonging among Iraqi refugees
  • Migration and urbanisation of indigenous peoples: implications for identity, gender relations and cultural continuity
  • A comparative study of young British South Asians' experiences of Sport, Olympics and national identity
  • Beyond 'racists', 'hooligans' & 'fascists': engagement processes and sustained participation of women, LGBT and religious minority groups within the English Defence League
  • National Identity and Dialogue Among Ethnic Groups in Central Asia, A Case Study of Kazakhstan
    Dependent migrants who migrate from Turkey to the UK
  • This is England: Class, Culture and Ethnicity in Non-Metropolitan Spaces
  • Indian Diaspora vis a vis Indian Highly Skilled Migrants
  • Kurdish Women: in diaspora and in homeland


Dr David Bartram

I investigate international migration from a variety of angles. My current research explores the relationship between immigration and happiness, investigating whether (as many would assume) migration to a wealthy country is advantageous to the immigrants themselves in the sense that it brings them greater happiness. I am also writing about political integration of immigrants, in part via an ESRC-funded project on the ‘citizenship process’. My earlier work includes research about forced migration, non-Jewish immigrants in Israel, and Japan’s reluctance to admit migrant workers.

Dr Leah Bassel

I conduct research in the areas of Refugee and migration studies, comparative political sociology, citizenship and integration, national/transnational political participation of migrants, and intersectionality. One strand 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. I am also 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.

Professor Bob Carter

I have a long-standing interest in issues of racism and social theory and the politics of immigration. More recently, I have pursued research into issues of language and social identity, incorporating earlier interests in racism and ethnicity. Further areas of research interest that have developed from earlier work are the relationship between genomics, genealogies and contemporary notions of identity as well as the impact of current knowledge of human genetic variation on social categorisations of race and ethnicity. I have also published (with Steve Fenton, University of Bristol) a critique of ethnicity thinking in sociology.

Dr Ipek Demir

My work includes projects on ethno-political identity, diaspora, race and nationalism, especially in the context of Turkey and the Middle East. I am interested in how insights from translation studies can be used to enrich existing understandings of the notion of diaspora and conceptualisations of transnationalism and migration. I recently held an AHRC Fellowship, examining how ethno-political identity is represented and translated by Kurds (of Turkey) in London. I am the founder and co-coordinator of BSA’s Diaspora, Migration and Transnationalism (DMT) Study Group and the Vice- Chair of ESA’s Sociology of Migration Research Network.

Professor Barbara Misztal

My recent research focuses on citizenship and migration, the use of the past by right-wing populism in their anti-migrant campaigns, and the significance of literary sources in preserving migrants’ memory and constructing migrants’ identities and belonging. I am interested in collective memory and political sociology, particularly in connection with issues of justice and forgiveness in post-conflict societies.

Dr Pierre Monforte

I situate my work in the field of political sociology. I focus primarily on civil society and social movements, with a particular emphasis on movements of migrants. I have carried out empirical research on the mobilizations of asylum-seekers and refugees in France, Germany, and at the European Union level, from a comparative perspective. Recently, I have also analysed the mobilizations of undocumented migrants in Canada. I examine theoretical and empirical questions on immigration, citizenship, European politics, and the representation of interests at various levels of governance in a context of europeanization.

Dr Jane Pilcher

I research on the theme of belonging via work on the sociology of personal names. I am especially interested in the ways names are used in the creation and recreation of individual and social identities and in practices of social inclusion/exclusion. My focus includes: surnames and familial affiliation, including women's surname choices and choices made about children's surnames; forenames, surnames and gender identities, including feminist identities and trans-identities; nicknames and their role in hate crimes; naming practices, ethnic identities, migration and racism; the names-bodies-identities nexus.

Dr Jackie Sanchez-Taylor

I connect with migration studies via my work on the sociology of gender and sexuality, with a special focus on female sex tourism and medical tourism. Within these areas I am also interested in the intersections of gender, race, sexuality and empowerment.

John Williams

I research on the theme of belonging via my work on the sociology of football and football fan culture; sports identities; issues of antiracist action around football clubs; local football and local identity construction through sport; rugby union fan and football fan allegiances and identity construction through sport. My particular focus has been recent developments in professional football and football culture, but I am also interested in sociological questions around all sports including those around issues of race and gender, crowd behaviour and management, globalisation, commercialisation, identity formation, sporting consumption, place and locality.


Bartram, D (2015) “Forced migration and ‘rejected alternatives’: a conceptual refinement.” Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies, forthcoming.

Bartram, D (2015) “Inverting the logic of economic migration: Happiness among migrants moving from wealthier to poorer countries in Europe.” Journal of Happiness Studies, forthcoming

Bartram, D (2014) Key Concepts in Migration Sage Publications. Co-authored with Maritsa V. Poros and Pierre Monforte.

Bartram, D (2013) “Happiness and ‘economic migration’: A comparison of Eastern European migrants and stayers.” Migration Studies, 1:2, 156-75.

Bartram, D (2013) “Migration, return and happiness in Romania.” European Societies, 15:3, 408-422.

Bartram, D (2012) “Elements of a Sociological Contribution to Happiness Studies.” Sociology Compass, 6:8, 644-56.

Bartram, D (2011) “Economic Migration and Happiness: Comparing Immigrants’ and Natives’ Happiness Gains from Income.” Social Indicators Research, 103:1, 57-76.

Bartram, D (2011) “Migration, Ethno-nationalist Destinations, and Social Divisions: Non-Jewish Immigrants in Israel.” Ethnopolitics, 10:2, 235-252.

Bartram, D (2010) “International Migration, Open Border Debates, and Happiness.” International Studies Review, 12:3, 339-361.

Bartram, D (2010) “The Normative Foundations of ‘Policy Implications’: Reflections on International Labour Migration.” Work, Employment and Society, 24:2, 355-65.

Bassel, L (2012) Refugee Women: Beyond Gender versus Culture (Routledge)

Bassel, L (2014) 'Contemporary Grammars of Resistance: Two French Social Movements', Sociology. 48(3), 537-553.

Bassel, L and Akwugo Emejulu (2014) 'Solidarity under Austerity: Intersectionality in France and the United Kingdom', Politics & Gender 10(1), pp. 130-136.

Bassel, L (2013) 'Speaking and Listening: The 2011 English Riots', Sociological Research Online, 18(4)12.

Demir, I (2015) 'Diaspora' entry for Global Social Theory dictionary.

Demir, I (2015) 'Battlespace Diaspora: How the Kurds of Turkey Revive, Construct and Translate the Kurdish Struggle in London', in Christou, Anastasia and Mavroudi, Elizabeth (eds.) Dismantling Diasporas: Rethinking the Geographies of Diasporic Identity, Connection and Development (Farnham: Ashgate), pp. 71-84.

Demir, I (2014) 'Humbling Turkishness: Undoing the Strategies of Exclusion and Inclusion of Turkish Modernity', Journal of Historical Sociology, 27(3), pp. 381-401.

Demir, I (2012) 'Battling with Memleket in London: the Kurdish Diaspora's Engagement with Turkey', Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 38(5), May, pp. 815-831.

Demir, I (2011) 'Lost in Translation? Try Second Language Learning: Understanding Movements of Ideas and Practices across Time and Space', Journal of Historical Sociology, 24(1), March, pp. 9-26.

Demir, I and Zeydanlioglu, Welat (2010) 'On the Representation of 'Others' at Europe's Borders: The Case of Iraqi Kurds', Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 18(1), March, pp. 7-23.

Misztal, B, (2015) 'Political forgiveness’ transformative potentials' International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society, vol.28(3)

Misztal, B, (2012) 'The idea of dignity: its modern significance', European Journal of Sociology, 16(1):101-121

Misztal, B, (2011) 'Forgiveness and the construction of new conditions for a common life.' Contemporary Social Science: Journal of the Academy of Social Science, 6 (1) pp. 39-55

Misztal, B, 'Collective memory in a global age; learning how and what to remember', Current Sociology, 58 (1), pp. 2-22

Monforte, P (2014), Europeanizing Contention. The Protest against ‘Fortress Europe’ in France and Germany, Oxford: Berghahn Books.

Monforte, P and Dufour, Pascale (2013) 'Understanding Collective Actions of Undocumented Migrants in a Comparative Perspective: Protest as an Act of Emancipation', European Political Science Review, 5(1), pp. 83-104.

Monforte, P (2014) 'The Cognitive Dimension of Social Movements’ Europeanization Processes. The Case of the Protest against ‘Fortress Europe’', Perspectives on European Politics and Society, 15(1), pp. 120-137

Pilcher, J (2015) Names, Bodies and Identities', Sociology, published online before print May 18, 2015, doi: 10.1177/0038038515582157.

Sanchez Taylor, J (2010) Sex Tourism and Social Inequalities in Stroma Cole and Nigel Morgan (eds.) Tourism and Social Justice, Oxford. CABI.

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