Project Investigators and Research Team

Prof Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh (PI)

efqElena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh is the Principal Investigator leading the Refugee Hosts project; she is Professor of Migration and Refugee Studies and Co-Director of the Migration Research Unit at University College London (UCL), where she is also the Coordinator of the UCL-wide Refuge in a Moving World interdisciplinary research network (@RefugeMvingWrld). Elena’s research focuses on the intersections between gender, generation and religion in experiences of and responses to conflict-induced displacement, with a particular regional focus on the Middle East. She has conducted extensive research in refugee camps and urban areas including in Algeria, Cuba, Egypt, France, Lebanon, South Africa, Syria, Sweden, and the UK, and drawing on a critical theoretical perspective her work contributes to key debates surrounding refugees’ and local host community members’ experiences of conflict-induced displacement, the nature of refugee-host-donor relations, and both North-South and South-South humanitarian responses to forced migration. Her recent publications include The Ideal Refugees: Gender, Islam and the Sahrawi Politics of Survival (Syracuse University Press, 2014),  South-South Educational Migration, Humanitarianism and Development: Views from the Caribbean, North Africa and the Middle East (Routledge, 2015), The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (co-editor, Oxford University Press, 2014, paperback published in 2016), and Intersections of Religion and Migration: Issues at the Global Crossroads (co-editor, Palgrave, 2016).

In October 2015, Elena was awarded a 2015 Philip Leverhulme Prize in recognition of her research into humanitarian responses to the Syrian refugee crisis in the Middle East; in 2016 she was awarded a major European Research Council grant (1,5 million Euro) for her new 5 year project Analysing South-South Humanitarian Responses to Displacement from Syria.

Contact Elena on: and follow her on @RefugeMvingWorld.

Prof Alastair Ager (Co-I)

Alastair.pngAlastair Ager is Director of the Institute for Global Health and Development, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh and Professor of Population and Family Health at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. He has worked in the field of health and development for over 30 years, after training in psychology at the universities of Keele, Wales and Birmingham. He has worked as Head of the Department of Psychology at the University of Malawi; Senior Research Manager for health and education research with the UK Department for International Development; and Executive Director of the Global Health Initiative and Director of the DrPH in Leadership in Global Health and Humanitarian Systems at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. He has worked as a consultant with a broad range of agencies including UNICEF, UNHCR, WHO, Save the Children, World Vision and ChildFund International.

Alastair is active in five major areas of research: the engagement of local faith communities in humanitarian response (in collaboration with the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities and a range of faith-based, secular and academic partners); the evaluation of humanitarian programming (particularly with regard to protection and psychosocial support of refugee children); health systems resilience in contexts of crisis (especially through work in northern Nigeria and the Middle East); the adjustment and well-being of humanitarian workers (in collaboration with the Antares Foundation); and health research capacity strengthening. His work is currently funded by DFID, the Wellcome Trust, the US National Institutes of Health, the ESRC and the AHRC.

He is author of over one hundred scholarly publications including papers in Science, The Lancet, the British Medical Journal, Social Science and Medicine, Health Policy and Planning and the Journal of Refugee Studies and the book Faith, Secularism and Humanitarian Engagement (Palgrave, 2015) , co-authored with his son, Joey Ager.

Contact Alastair on and follow him on @AlastairAger

Dr Anna Rowlands (Co-I)

Durham University PortraitsDr Anna Rowlands is a Political Theologian with a background in the social sciences as well as theology. She is Lecturer in Contemporary Catholic Theology and Deputy Director of the Centre for Catholic Studies in the Dept of Theology and Religion, Durham University, UK. She has worked in the area of theological ethics and human migration for nearly a decade, working in particular on questions of European policy, immigration detention and narratives of the good. She is the co-author of a comparative piece on Christian and Islamic traditions of thought on migration, and has researched and written on community based responses to migration in a UK setting. She is an editor of T&T Clark Reader in Political Theology (2016) and Anglican Social Theology (2014), and the author of the forthcoming monograph Catholic Social Teaching: A Guide for the Perplexed (Bloomsbury: 2017). She works with a number of UK faith-based organisations in the field of migration and development work. She has additional research interests in the work of Hannah Arendt, Simone Weil and Gillian Rose (on whom she completed her PhD research). Her interests lie at the intersection of theological metaphysics and ethics, political theory, the practice of the church and the practice of politics. She also has a long term commitment to working as a community organiser.

Contact Anna on and follow her on @AnnaRowlands1

Prof Lyndsey Stonebridge (Co-I)LyndseyStonebridgeHR091 copy.jpg

Lyndsey Stonebridge is Professor of Modern Literature and History at the University of East Anglia, where she directs the Humanities and Human Rights Project.  Adopting a question-driven and interdisciplinary approach, Lyndsey’s research draws on the connections between literature, history, politics and law and, most recently, human rights and refugee studies. Her earlier work on psychoanalysis and modern culture focused on the effects of war and displacement on the imagination. Books in this field include The Destructive Element (1998), Reading Melanie Klein (with John Phillips, 1998), The Writing of Anxiety (2007) and British Fiction after Modernism (with Marina MacKay, 2007).

Lyndsey’s latest book, The Judicial Imagination: Writing after Nuremberg (Edinburgh, 2011, paperback and e-book 2014), took the work of Hannah Arendt as a theoretical starting point in order to think about the relation between justice and literature in the aftermath of total war and genocide. The book focused on the work of an extraordinary generation of women writers and intellectuals, including Rebecca West, Martha Gellhorn, Elizabeth Bowen, Dorothy Thompson, Muriel Spark and Iris Murdoch. Writing in the false dawn of a new era of international justice and human rights, these women were drawn to the law because of its promise of justice, yet critical of its political blindness and suspicious of its moral claims.

Arendt’s important arguments about statelessness and human rights form the core of her new book Placeless People: Rights, Writing and Refugees (forthcoming with OUP, 2017). This is a transnational study of how the literature of exile gave way to a more complicated and vexed articulation of statelessness and refugeedom. In 1944 Arendt wrote: ‘Everywhere the word ‘exile’ which once had an undertone of almost sacred awe, now provokes the idea of something simultaneously suspicious and unfortunate.’ The book offers an intellectual and literary history of that transition. She is also writing a short book on Literature and Human Rights, and is the co-editor of the new Edinburgh Companion to Refugee Writing.

Contact Lyndsey on and follow her on @LyndseyStonebri