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Professor Umut Erel

Profile summary

Professional biography

Professor in Sociology

Research interests

Dr. Erel’s research employs an intersectional approach and explores how gender, migration and ethnicity inform practices of citizenship. This has first been developed in her PhD, looking at skilled migrant women from Turkey in Britain and Germany (2009), then she explored these issues in the context of paid and unpaid work of refugee women in the voluntary sector and migrants in new areas of multiculture.

Her current research focuses on migrant families and citizenship. This explores how migrant women’s mothering practices can be conceptualized as citizenship practices. The focus is on questions of belonging and participation for the mothers and their children, for more information see

She is PI in an AHRC project 'Participatory Artsbased Methods For Civic Engagement In Migrant Support Organizations' AH/T004045/1, building on previous work with migrant families using participatory theatre and walking methods.

She is PI on an ESRC funded research grant on ‘Participatory Arts and Social Action Research (PASAR): Participatory Theatre and Walking Methods' Potential for Co-producing knowledge’ (January 2016 - December 2017) This work focuses on exploring and developing participatory walking and theatre methods for use in social science research, dissemination, engagement and teaching. Substantively the project builds on her interest in migrant families’ citizenship, exploring intergenerational relations and the marginalization of migrant families affected by the ‘No Recourse to Public Funding’ policy. A reflection on the methods is available in this podcast and this blog

and further detail on the project is available here 


This builds on a range of empirical projects, on migrant mothers’ citizenship including an AHRC funded networking activity on ‘Migrant Mothers’ Caring for the Future: Creative Interventions into Citizenship’ (PI Umut Erel, CI Tracey Reynolds, University of Greenwich) (2013-15), consisting of a series of seminars, an international conference and a series of participatory theatre workshops with migrant mothers. In this project, she applied participatory theatre methods as a research method to explore the theoretical notion of how migrant mothers enact citizenship. The project website with audio-visual clips from the theatre workshops, presentations of the conference and seminars and a theatre performance is available at(

Dr Erel leads the Research Stream Justice, Borders, Rights ( of the Strategic Research Area Citizenship and Governance, having been Co-Director of Research Programme Migration and Belongings, Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance

Dr Erel has been leading the OU's contribution to a collaboration between academics, arts and activists on the Who Are We? Project, exploring issues of belonging, participation, citizenship and migration through an annual 6 day multi-platform event at the Tate Exchange project ( and

Externally funded research

- 'Participatory Artsbased Methods For Civic Engagement In Migrant Support Organizations' ,£ 98,320 PI Umut Erel, CI Tracey Reynolds, University of Greenwich, international collaborator: Maggie O'Neill University of Cork AHRC AH/T004045/1

- 'Migration Making People, Making Places' £25,000, PIs Umut Erel, Jacqueline Broadhead (COMPAS, Oxford University), CI: Giles Mohan (OU). February 2018 - December 2018

- ‘Participatory Arts and Social Action Research (PASAR): Participatory Theatre and Walking Methods', Economic and Social Research Council £452,821 PI with CIs Maggie O’Neill, York University and Tracey Reynolds University of Greenwich. January 2016-January 2018

- ‘Migrant Mothers Caring for the Future: Creative Interventions into Citizenship’, AHRC Networking Grant, £32,500. PI with CI Prof. Tracey Reynolds, LSBU. May 2013-Feb 2015

- ESF Exploratory Workshop ‘A Caring Europe? Gender, Care and Migration in Europe’, European Science Foundation, Euro 14.000. PI with CIs Nicola Yeates and Parvati Raghuram November 2009

PhD supervision

Since 2016: Marianna Latif ‘Migrant fathers’ identities’ (part-time)

Since 2015: Xenia Rochelle Jones ‘A critical ethnographic study of the Philippine Overseas Foreign Workers Phenomenon to explore its impact on poverty alleviation via the ‘Padala’ practice’ (part-time)

Completed PhDs

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

Kiran Nihalani ‘How can emerging practices which acknowledge interdependence and foster solidarity prefigure new forms and relationships of social welfare?


2009: Migrant Women Transforming Citizenship. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Journal articles

Umut Erel & Necla Acik (2019) Enacting intersectional multilayered citizenship: Kurdish women’s politics,Gender, Place & Culture, DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2019.1596883

O’Neill, MaggieErel, UmutKaptani, EreneReynolds, Tracey (2019) Borders, risk and belonging: Challenges for arts-based research in understanding the lives of women asylum seekers and migrants ‘at the borders of humanity’Crossings: Journal of Migration & Culture, Volume 10, Number 1, 1 April 2019, pp. 129-147(19) 

Erel, Umut and Ryan, Louise (2018) ‘Cultural Capital and Social Networks in Migration: A dynamic spatio-temporal approach’, Sociology,Online First Published July 16, 2018

Erel, Umut Saving and reproducing the nation: Struggles around right-wing politics of social reproduction, gender and race in austerity Europe (2018) 
Women's Studies International Forum ((online first November 2017))

Erel, Umut and Reynolds, Tracey Introduction: migrant mothers challenging racialized citizenship (2018) Ethnic and Racial Studies, 41(1) (pp. 1-16)
Erel, Umut; Reynolds, Tracey and Kaptani, Erene Participatory theatre for transformative social research (2017-06-01) Qualitative Research, 17(3) (pp. 302-312)

Erel, Umut, Reynolds, Tracey and Kaptani, Erene ‘Migrant Mothers’ Racialized Citizenship’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, online first April 2017

Erel, Umut; Murji, Karim; Nabahoo, Zaki 2016 ’Understanding the contemporary race-migration nexus: Reflections on the UK in European context’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 39 (8), pp. 1339-1360

Erel, Umut and Tracey Reynolds: Research Note: Black Feminism and Migrant Mothers’ Participatory Theatre, Feminist Review, SI on Black Feminism December 2014.

Erel, Umut 2013 ‘Kurdish Migrant mothers enacting citizenship’ Citizenship Studies, Special issue on Reproducing Citizenship, 17 (8), pp. 970-984

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) November, pp. 460-74.

Erel, Umut and Helma Lutz 2012 ’Gender and transnationalism’ European Journal of Women's Studies November 19 (4) pp. 409-412

Erel, Umut 2012 Introduction: Transnational Care: Changing Formations of Citizenship, Family and Generation, Social Politics 19 (1) pp. 1-14

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

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

Erel, Umut ‘Making Migrant Women Visible’ Special issue of Cahiers du Genre on 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 2008 ‘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.)

Edited Books

- L, Ryan, U. Erel, A. D’Angelo (eds.) 2015 Placing Capitals: Migration, Networks, Identities. Palgrave.

- M. Morokvasic, U. Erel, K. Shinozaki (eds.) 2003 On the Move! Gender and Migration: Crossing borders and shifting boundaries. Leske & Budrich

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 L. Ryan, U. Erel, D’Angelo, A. (eds.) Migrant Capital. Networks, Identities and Strategies, Palgrave.

‘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.– 2nd, paperback edition 2014.

2010: ‘Migrant Women Challenging Stereotypical Views on Femininities and Family’ in Gill, R. and Scharff, C.M. (eds.) New Femininities:Postfeminism, neoliberalism and subjectivity (Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan).

2010: with Jin Haritaworn, Encarnación Gutiérrez Rodríguez, Christian Klesse: On the Depoliticisation of Intersectionality Talk. Conceptualising Multiple Oppressions in Critical Sexuality Studies. In: Taylor, Yvette; Hines, Sally, Casey, Mark E. (eds.) Theorizing Intersectionality and Sexuality. Palgrave Macmillan.

Teaching interests

I have chaired the module The Uses of Social Science DD206, having previously chaired D844 Ethnography and have contributed to DD102, DD103 and DD206. I am on the module team of DD218 on the Digital and the Social and DD215 on Research Methods for Sociology, Criminology and Social Policy.

Impact and engagement

Since 2017, I have co-led the OU part of the consortium across arts and academia putting on a multi- platform event at Tate EXchange: Who are We Project?


2019: Invited Talk Government Social Research Methods Group on Participatory and Creative Methods

2019     Invited Talk Participatory Action Research, Dialogues with Civil Society, German Ministry for Families, 26 March 2019    

2017: House of Commons Event: From Margins to Centre Stage: Families affected by No Recourse to Public Funds, Sponsored by Kate Green MP, Chair of APPG Migration,

2016: Workshop on participatory theatre methods for Evelyne Oldfield Trust, Research and Women's Conferences

2012-14 Chair of the Milton Keynes Council’s Ethnic Diversity Commission, specific responsibility to lead 15 public, private and voluntary sector professionals in conducting the first ever consultation on Ethnic Diversity in Milton Keynes. I led the consultation and the report with groundbreaking recommendations.

2010-11 Academic consultant to Roj Woman, Kurdish Women’s NGO in London on their reports ‘Women Human Rights Defenders in Kurdish Regions of Turkey’ and ‘Empowering Kurdish Women in London’

2011: Evidence to European Commission Report on Migrant Women in Europe

2009: 90 second lecture: ‘British Jobs for British Workers?’

2008: Migrants’ Rights Network consultation on Pathways to Citizenship

2008: workshop for gender researchers and activists from the Middle East on Gender and Migration at the Conference on Gender, Migration and Ethnicity at the Lebanese American University Beirut, January 2008

2006: Commission for Racial Equality consultation on migration and racism

External collaborations

I have co-led the OU part of the consortium across arts and academia putting on a multi- platform event at Tate Exchange: Who are We Project?

I am Deputy Chair of the Editorial Board of Sociology, the British Sociological Association's Flagship journal

I am on the Steering Group of the Migration Museum Project

I am on the Board of Trustees of Imece Women's Centre

I am on the board of Research Committee 05 Racism, Nationalism, Ethnicity and Indigeneity of the International Sociological Assocation.

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Centre for Citizenship, Identifies and Governance (CCIG)CentreFaculty of Social Sciences