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  4. Justice, Borders, and Rights
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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 Tendayi Bloom, Lecturer in Political Studies
  4. Dr Victoria Canning, Lecturer in Criminology
  5. Dr Sarah Crafter, Senior Lecturer in Psychology
  6. Dr Agnes Czajka, Lecturer in POLIS
  7. Dr Umut Erel, Senior Lecturer, Sociology
  8. Dr Neil Graffin, Lecturer in International Law
  9. Professor Marie Gillespie,Professor of Sociology
  10. Professor Suman Gupta, Professor of Literature and Cultural History
  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. Professor Nicola Yeates, Professor of Social Policy
  16. 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.

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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.

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Dr Tendayi Bloom, Lecturer in Political Studies

Tendayi is a political and legal theorist. Her work focuses on the relationship between noncitizens and States and between noncitizens and the multi-State system. She is author of Noncitizenism: Recognising Noncitizen Capabilities in a World of Citizens and is co-editor most recently of Understanding Statelessness (with K Tonkiss and P Cole). In the year 2018/2019 she is undertaking a Leverhulme Trust Fellowship, working on a project entitled Noncitizenship and the Global Compact for Migration.

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Dr Victoria Canning, Lecturer in Criminology

Gendered harms in seeking asylum; structural violence with regard to political decisions and border controls; state and organisational responses to survivors of sexual violence; torture and sexual torture; impacts of everyday controls on people seeking asylum. I use interviews, oral history and continuous activist participation in my methods/work/activism. I am currently undertaking a 2-year ESRC Future Research Leader project investigating gendered harms in three case study countries: Britain, Denmark and Sweden. The aim is to address border-related harms (temporal harm, housing, destitution, the gendered facilitation of exploitation etc) and ways in which they might be mitigated.

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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

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?’.

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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.

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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.

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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

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