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Staff Profile

Dr Umut Erel

Dr Umut Erel
Faculty of Social Sciences
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes
United Kingdom

Lecturer in Sociology



Lecturer in Sociology


MA Gender and Ethnic Studies, Greenwich University
PhD Cultural Studies, Nottingham Trent University

Professional affiliations

International Sociological Association
Research Committee 05 Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations Board Member

Course development and teaching

I chair the Level 2 module The Uses of Social Science (DD206), have chaired the postgraduate module Ethnography (D844), and contributed to Investigating the Social World (DD103).

Research interests

My research interests are in the intersections of migration, ethnicity, gender and class, culture and representation. I am interested in how these issues play out in practices of differentiated citizenship. My monograph on ‘Migrant Women Transforming Citizenship (Ashgate 2009) addresses this through the lens of the life-stories of migrant women from Turkey in Britain and Germany.

Currently I am exploring migrant women’s mothering practices as citizenship practices in their own right and with respect to shaping their children’s ethnic, cultural, political identities and modes of citizenship. My recent AHRC networking project has focused on Migrant mothers caring for the future, detailed information can be found on the project, including audio visual resources using academic talks and theatre methods for research, teaching can be found on the website.

I am particularly interested in participatory methods and currently am PI for an ESRC National Centre for Research Methods project exploring 'Participatory Action Research (PAR): participatory theatre and walking methods' potential for co-producing knowledge'.

I am co-director of the Research Programme Migrations and Belongings of the Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance.

PhD supervision

I am currently supervising (with Prof Parvati Raghuram) Xenia Rochelle Jones’ PhD on Female Overseas Filippino Workers in Manufacturing.

Kiran Nihalani (with Dr. Julia Downes) on How can emerging practices which acknowledge interdependence and foster solidarity prefigure new forms and relationships of social welfare?

I welcome applications of potential PhD students in the areas of my research interests and more generally in the areas of gender and migration, citizenship, identities.

Completed PhDs

Hilal Alkan Zeybek on Enacting Citizenship: Practices of Intimacy and Gift-Giving in Turkey.

Recent publications

A selection of my research publications can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online.


2009: Migrant Women Transforming Citizenship. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Journal articles

Erel, Umut, Murji, Karim and Nahaboo, Zaki (forthcoming) ‘Understanding the contemporary racemigration nexus’, Ethnic and Racial Studies 10.1080/01419870.2016.1161808

Erel, Umut and Reynolds, Tracey: research note: black feminist theory for participatory theatre with migrant mothers. Feminist Review SI Black British

Erel, Umut (2013). Kurdish migrant mothers in London enacting citizenship. Citizenship Studies, 17(8) pp. 970–984.

2012: Co-editor with Fiona Williams and Deborah Brennan of a Special Issue of Social Politicson ‘Transnational Care: Changing Formations of Citizenship, Family and Generation’, vol 19 (1), March 2012.

2012: Co-editor with Helma Lutz of a Special Issue of European Journal of Women’s Studieson ‘Gender and Transnationalism’, November 2012 19 (4).

Erel, Umut 2012 ‘Engendering transnational space: Migrant mothers as cultural currency speculators’, Special Issue on Gender and Transnationalism of European Journal of Women’s Studies, vol 19 (1), pp. 460-74.

Erel, Umut 2011 ‘Complex belongings: Racialization and migration in a small English city’, Ethnic and Racial Studies  vol 34 (12), pp. 2048-68

Erel, Umut 2011 ‘Reframing Migrant Mothers as Citizens’, Citizenship Studies, vol 5 (6-7), pp.695-709

Erel, Umut 2011 ‘Making Migrant Women Visible’ Special issue of Cahiers du Genreon Mobilizing Migrant Women in Europe, vol 51 Dec 2011, pp. 135-154

Erel, Umut 2010 Migrating Cultural Capital - Bourdieu in Migration Studies’, Sociology 44 (4) August 2010, pp.642-660

Erel, Umut 2007 ‘Constructing Meaningful Lives: Biographical Methods in Research on Migrant Women’, Sociological Research Online, Volume 12 (4), 2007 (Reprinted in: Life Story Research, edited by Barbara Harrison, Sage: 2008.)

Book chapters

Re-thinking Citizenship through Migrant Women’s Life-Stories’ in E. Gutierrez Rodriguez and M. Littler (eds.) (2015) Creolizing Europe.Liverpool University Press

‘Thinking Migrant Capitals Intersectionally: Using a Biographical Approach’ in Ryan, L, Erel, U. and D’Angelo, A. Migrant (eds.) (2015) Capitals: Networks, Identities, Strategies. Palgrave, ISBN 9781137348791

‘Troubling’ the problematization of intergenerational relations: migrant children’s views, in J. McCarthy, C.-A. Hooper, V. Gillies (eds.) (2013) Family Troubles. Bristol: Policy Press. ISBN 9781447304432, published as paperback in 2014

Last updated: 8 April 2016