Skip to content

Toggle service links

Coronavirus: Course registration is open, but please be aware it may take us longer to respond than usual. Find out about our coronavirus response and current contact hours.

You are here

  1. Home
  2. Faculties & themes
  3. Citizenship & Governance
  4. Justice, Borders, and Rights
  5. Researchers


The Justice, Borders and Rights researchers work on a wide range of projects:

  1. Dr Eleni Andreouli, Lecturer in Psychology
  2. Dr Shonil Bhagwat, Senior Lecturer in Geography
  3. Dr Tim Butcher, Senior Lecturer in Organisation Studies 
  4. Dr Sarah Crafter, Senior Lecturer in Psychology
  5. Dr Agnes Czajka, Lecturer in POLIS
  6. Dr Umut Erel, Senior Lecturer, Sociology
  7. Dr Neil Graffin, Lecturer in International Law
  8. Professor Marie Gillespie,Professor of Sociology
  9. Professor Suman Gupta, Professor of Literature and Cultural History
  10. Dr Sharif Haider, Lecturer in Social Work
  11. Ms Evgenia Iliadou, PhD Student
  12. Dr Kesi Mahendran, Professor of Literature and Cultural History
  13. Dr Philip O’Sullivan, Staff Tutor
  14. Dr James Rees, Anthony Nutt Senior Research Fellow
  15. Dr Patrick Wong, Lecturer in Intelligent Computer Systems
  16. Professor Nicola Yeates, Professor of Social Policy
  17. Dr Eva Nieto McAvoy, Research Associate

Members and their research interests

Dr Eleni Andreouli, Lecturer in Psychology

I have an interest in the micro-politics of everyday life, particularly in practices through which citizenship and non-citizenship are constructed. My research focuses on discursive practices in the sphere of the every day, whereby ‘ordinary people’ constitute themselves as citizens. My work is located within critical social psychology but also very much informed by sociology and politics. My recent research focuses on lay political reasoning around Brexit.

Back to top

Dr Shonil Bhagwat, Senior Lecturer in Geography

I am interested in very different kinds of borders – those that separate humans from animal species in nature reserves. These borders often take the form of fences and in the context of climate change, these fences obstruct animal movements in response to warming climate. Some of these fences are meant to prevent illegal migration (e.g. Trump’s wall) but end up compromising animal movements. The issues of ‘justice’ and ‘rights’ from non-human animals’ perspectives form a very interesting area of research and I am interested in this. I have a PhD student currently working on co-existence of humans and elephants in South India, and another working on illegal wildlife trade in East Africa. Both strands of research bring up interesting issues about justice, borders and rights. I am currently pursuing these interests through PhD student supervision, but have also written about the tensions between conservation in nature reserves and the need for development of poor rural populations. The bids I am currently developing are about the development of poor rural populations and they address some of the issues around justice, borders and rights.

Back to top

Dr Tim Butcher, Senior Lecturer in Organisation Studies 

Tim Butcher is Senior Lecturer in Organisation Studies at The Open University Business School. His research seeks to understand how individuals make sense of precarious work through collective learning and organising. Tim uses decolonial and visual ethnographic methods with diverse groups including Australian Indigenous communities, socially engaged artists in the UK and freelancers. He was co-Chief Investigator on the Australian Research Council-funded Wellbeing not Winning project, in collaboration with the people of Papunya (2015-2018). He currently leads a visual research study, Tales of Precarity, which aims to produce a visual narrative of artists' and freelancers' experiences of precarious work for public exhibition and publication. Tim’s research has been published in a range of academic journals including Management Learning, Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, Australian Aboriginal Studies, Griffith Review, and Sport in Society. He has also contributed to edited volumes including The Routledge Companion to Ethics, Politics and Organizations (Routledge, 2015) and Ethnographies in Sport and Exercise Research (Routledge, 2016).

Dr Sarah Crafter, Senior Lecturer in Psychology

My academic interests lie in the area of migration, diversity, belonging, identities and practices, with a focus on children, young people and families. By background, I am a developmental and cultural psychologist and my theoretical and conceptual interests are grounded in sociocultural theory, transitions, critical or contested ideas of ‘normative’ development, past experience and cultural identity development. More recently, I have begun to explore the concept of cultural contact zones in culturally diverse settings and how they act as social spaces of uncertainties, clashes, ambiguities, unequal power relations and possibilities.

I have a longstanding interest in working with child language brokers, who are children and young people who translate and interpret for family members after migration to a new country. The aim of this work is to raise the visibility of the practice and to draw on their experiences to help improve the communication between language brokers, parents and adults in positions of authority.

More recently, I have been working in collaboration with Rachel Rosen (UCL) on research that explores the care of children, by other children when they are unaccompanied refugee minors. I am involved with an interdisciplinary team of academics, professionals and charities/NGOs to examine how unaccompanied minors navigate care and asylum systems
Back to top

Dr Agnes Czajka, Lecturer in POLIS

Agnes’s research interests include contemporary social and political thought, continental political philosophy, democracy, citizenship, contentious politics, migrant and refugee politics, and European and Mediterranean politics. Her most recent publications include include Europe After Derrida: Crisis and Potentiality (Edinburgh University Press), Democracy and Justice: Reading Derrida in Istanbul (Routledge), and a special issue of the journal philoSOPHIA: A Journal of Continental Feminism, titled ''Mapping the Margins of Europe: Race, Migration and Belonging’. Agnes co-leads (with Dr. Umut Erel) the Open University’s Tate Exchange initiative, which has thus far resulted in two years of interactive and participatory arts and educational programming at the Tate Modern (, addressing issues of citizenship, migration, identity, and belonging. Agnes is also lead on an AHRC funded project, Picturing Climate: Participatory Photography and Narrative Storytelling for Climate Change Education.

Back to top

Dr Umut Erel, Senior Lecturer, Sociology

My research looks at migration, gender and citizenship: A large part of my work has focused on reconceptualising migrant women's mothering work as an enactment of citizenship I have also researched the relationship between race, racism and migration, including in a recent ERS article with Karim Murji and Zaki Nabahoo and a pilot study on the experiences of BME European migrants in the UK. My current research project Participation Arts and Social Action in Research – PASAR  looks at participatory theatre methods, exploring how researchers and participants can mobilise them to enact citizenship, changing the ways we think of and validated what counts as knowledge. Substantively the project looks at the experiences of migrant families, looking at intergenerational dialogues, experiences of racism, exclusion and subordination and marginalization.

I am extending this work on participatory and creative methods in migration research through knowledge exchange activities with the Migration Museum Project and Tate Exchange, most recently through an IAA/ ESRC project on ‘Migration Making Places and Making People: New Narratives of Inclusion’ and the Who Are We Project at Tate Exchange.

Back to top

Dr Neil Graffin, Lecturer in International Law

I am interested in the asylum legal process. I am currently undertaking research which looks at the impact of the asylum process on legal practitioners and impacts to representation. I am also interested in the modes of evidence gathering of Home Office case workers and improvements that could be made in respect of obtaining full asylum narratives, considering, for example, the impact of CCTV recordings on asylum interviews I am also in the early stages of developing doctrinal/case analysis research which looks at claims to the European Court on Human Rights, under Article 3, for protection under health grounds (eg HIV cases). Within this context, I am interested in governmental responses to ‘health tourism’ and the potential for the welfare state to be used as a reason for exclusion. I aim to further develop my research into asylum practitioners to look more widely at the effects of a variety of persons who work with asylum claimants, including interpreters, Home Office caseworkers and judges in the Immigration and Asylum tribunal. I aim to develop my small-scale study into a larger bid in this area.

Back to top

Professor Marie Gillespie, Professor of Sociology

Marie Gillespie is Professor of Sociology at the Open University. Her teaching and research focuses on migration and media, cultures of diplomacy, security and citizenship. Recent books include: Social Media, Religion and Spirituality;  Diasporas and Diplomacy: Cosmopolitan Contact Zones at the BBC World Service and  Drama for Development: Cultural Translation and Social Change. Fieldwork among refugees in Greece while investigating Europe’s migration‘crisis’ has allowed her to contribute to contemporary migration policy debates. Her collaborative research on Syrian refugees and smartphones helped secure European Commission funding to create a new digital service for refugees by international broadcasters. This builds on previous research on international news and political communications after 9/11, the Iraq War 2013 and the conflict in Syria. But her work has also looked at the brighter side of human culture, for example, in her national survey of the changing face of British humour with the BBC. Marie was awarded an AHRC Research Fellowship to investigate ‘The Art of Intercultural Dialogue’ and she s currently working on case studies in Egypt and Ukraine. She has won numerous  grants to develop innovative methods for cultural research working extensively with British Council.

Back to top

Professor Suman Gupta, Professor of Literature and Cultural History

My research interests are in contemporary political discourse/text analysis, especially with regard to representations of crises and conflicts within nation-states and at inter- and transnational levels. I coordinated a recently completed collaborative project “Framing Financial Crisis: NW and SE Europe” 2014-2016, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, with colleagues from institutions in Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria and Ireland. I have led a series of interdisciplinary and international collaborations since 2002, covering, in different phases, activities in China, India, Nigeria, Iran, Morocco, Brazil and other countries. I am also exploring the developing relationship between state-level policy and the institutional practice of research in socially engaged humanities.


Back to top


Dr Sharif Haider, Lecturer in Social Work

Dr. Sharif Haider is a social work lecturer in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education, & Language Studies (WELs) at the Open University, Milton Keynes. He is a registered social worker and a management coach, worked in both Children and Adult services, started as a frontline worker and gradually become a strategic leader of English local authority. He is now a management consultant, specialises in change and performance management.
Sharif is a qualified approved mental health professional (AMHP) and a best interest assessor (BIA). He is an external examiner and external academic reviewer. Sharif is also a fellow of Higher Education Academy.
He also serves as a councillor of a local council in the East Midlands.
His research is executed in both UK and low income country context and has three main strands:
• Use of artificial intelligence in social work: currently developing a tool to predict suicide, self-harm, and relapses.

• Digital social work and pedagogy related to educational uses of digital technology: currently developing a 3D virtual reality simulation for risk assessment and management, focusing on children social work.

• Radicalisation and social work intervention.

Back to top

Ms Evgenia Iliadou, PhD Student

I am interested in borders, human rights, violence, social harm, suffering and forced migration My PhD research project explores everyday harms and violence in the lives of refugees who are currently stranded in the island of Lesvos in Greece. My project is high relevant to Justice, Borders and Rights stream, since it is an auto-ethnography of borders, violence as well as of the violations of human rights which are taking place in border zones in numerous ways.

Back to top

Dr Kesi Mahendran, Professor of Literature and Cultural History

My research programme aims to contribute to the dialogue between citizens and their governments on vexed political questions such as immigration and the European Union. This involves moving from public opinion to public dialogue. To this end, using methods and tools from social psychology, particularly a narrative-dialogical analysis, I have begun articulating the capacities of the dialogical citizen and the development of public narratives. My recent cross-European project entitled ‘Placing Ourselves’ developed a 10-position migration-mobility continuum as an analytical lens which reterritorializes the borders between ‘migrant’ and ‘non-migrant’ as well as the one between ‘the public’ and migration. I am currently communicating to the public, academics and practitioners my on-going work on the diversity of public narratives on the European Union.

Back to top

Dr Philip O’Sullivan, Staff Tutor

Based in the OU office in Belfast with a background in political theory my interests are in the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, especially in light of Brexit and the impact it will have on this border on the island of Ireland in terms of politics and wider relations.

See “Brexit and the border: so what?’.

Back to top

Dr James Rees, Anthony Nutt Senior Research Fellow

My core research interests concentrate on the UK  third sector in a general sense and more particularly on the role of the sector in public service delivery. I have longer-running research interests in spatial governance, devolution, neighbourhood regeneration and economic development. However currently there are three projects/themes in CVSL which relate to the stream, particularly around migration, citizenship and borders: mental health crisis support provision by the voluntary sector, which is a particular issue for BAME communities in the UK.

I also work with Vita Terry and visiting fellow Fidele Mutwarasibo to develop future research on migration, rights and e.g. hate crime following Brexit, as well as working with European partners within and Erasmus+ project on entrepreneurial leadership which may lead to further Europe-wide leadership research.

Back to top

Dr Patrick Wong, Lecturer in Intelligent Computer Systems

 My research interest lies in the areas of image processing, computer vision and artificial intelligent applications, including applications for identifying social media messages from refugees and detecting people with early sign of mental illness using artificial intelligent methods. In the last three years, I have been working with researchers from development, social working and other disciplines to bid for external funding. Between 2015 and 2018, I was an executive committee member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s Vision and Imaging Professional network. I have also been a committee member of the OU's Animal Welfare Ethical Review Body, which monitors and approves researches using animals.

Back to top

Professor Nicola Yeates, Professor of Social Policy

An on-going theme in my work is how social diversity, divisions and inequalities are constructed, manifested and contested through diverse trans-border and transnational social processes. Recent areas of interest include globalisation(s) 'from above' and 'from below', including the development of cross-border spheres of governance, policy making and social rights, their relationship to national social systems, state and non-state strategies of internationalisation, including labour migration, family formation, health and social protection, and the development of transnational social, advocacy and policy networks. This work involves transnational conceptualisations of justice, borders, and rights.

ESRC-Department for International Development Joint Fund on Poverty Alleviation. Regionalism and poverty reduction. Social policy in global and regional spheres of trans-border governance.

Back to top

Dr Eva Nieto McAvoy, Research Associate

While my primary focus has been the Spanish Civil War exiles during the Second World War and Cold War, my research expands comparatively and historically to encompass contemporary practices of cultural relations in the work of the British Council in Egypt and Ukraine. The Cultural Value Project researches the impact of cultural relations in terms of their ability to make a difference – if, when and how – in particular to reducing conflict in societies going through substantial change. It also explores the relationship between theory and practices of cultural relations as in the everyday work of the cultural brokers involved with these institutions

Back to top
Citizenship and governance logo

A-Z of Brexit: A guide to Brexit terminology

This glossary has been designed to explain some of the key terms used in relation to Brexit.

Download the guide

Year of Mygration

250 insights into how migration affects all of us, not just migrants.

Posted throughout 2018, 5 days a week for 50 weeks, ahead of the OU’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2019.

Learn about the campaign

Download the C&G newsletter

Check out the October 2018 newsletter:

Download as pdf