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School of Politics and International Relations

Dr Rachel Humphris , BA (Durham), MPhil (Oxford), DPhil (Oxford), PGCertHE (Birmingham)


Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Politics

Room Number: Arts One, Room 2.34A
Twitter: @rachel_humphris
Office Hours: Mondays 14:00-15:00 (F2F) & Fridays 10-11am (Online)


Dr Rachel Humphris is a political sociologist whose research and teaching focuses on migration and citizenship, governance and policy-making, gender and race. Prior to joining the School of Politics and International Relations in September 2019 Rachel was a Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Birmingham (2017 – 2019) and Research Fellow at the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society, University of Oxford (2014-2017). Rachel has been a visiting fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, University of California - Berkeley, York University Toronto and the University of Sheffield.

Rachel’s research programme is methodologically diverse, theoretically grounded and empirically driven. She employs qualitative research methods that engage with theories and debates in critical migration and border studies, anthropology of the state and critical urbanism. Much of her work is inherently interdisciplinary, cutting across research in anthropology, geography, politics, public policy and sociology. Her published research can be found in Antipode, Geopolitics, Sociology, the Sociological Review, and the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, among others. Her monograph, Home-land: Romanian Roma, domestic spaces and the state was published with University of Bristol/University of Chicago Press in March 2019 and won the British Sociological Association Philip Abrams Memorial Runner-Up Prize in 2020.

Rachel is the recipient of several awards and fellowships including the Human Welfare Prize, University of Oxford (2014), the Aston Webb Award for Outstanding Early Career Academic, University of Birmingham (2019), Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship (2018 – 2021) and QMUL IHSS Strategic Research Fellowship (2019-2022).

Rachel is an Associate Editor for the journal Sociology and co-convenor of the British Sociological Association Migration, Transnationalism and Diaspora Group. 

Office hour joining link 


POL334 Migration and the Politics of Belonging (on leave)

POLM095 Migration and International Public Policy (on leave)

Postgraduate Teaching

Rachel is interested in supervising doctoral students related to her research interests.

Current PhD students:

Katherine Maria Phipps: Citizens of the World? Narratives of Mobility and Identity across Generations in Greece

Nuni Vieira Jorgensen: Fleeing South: The Impact of Patchwork Policies on Transnational Venezuelan Families in Latin America


Research Interests:

My research focuses on the relationship between migration and citizenship and the impact on local lives, identities and places. My work is grounded in contexts of rapid urban change in North America and Europe. My research agenda touches on several themes including radical positive programmes for urban futures; the influence of various forms of mobility on urban political and moral economies; and the governance of urban marginality.

I conducted long-term ethnographic research with Roma migrants from central and eastern Romania. My book Home-land: Romanian Roma, domestic spaces and the state (Bristol University Press, 2019) is an ethnography of new migrant families’ experiences of making home in a ‘downscaled’ urban area in the context of hostile national immigration, welfare, and labour policies. My current project Welcoming Cities? Understanding sanctuary in securitised states is a policy ethnography of urban sanctuary policy and practice across Canada, United States and UK. The project explores how cities can shape global migration governance and citizenship when facing aggressive securitisation of nation-states amid rapid social and economic change. I am currently writing a monograph entitled ‘The moral economy of sanctuary cities: Migration, Citizenship and Global Governance’ which provides a new perspective on how common ground is negotiated and contested in sanctuary cities; how urban residents are moved to act; and what political potentials are being opened (and foreclosed) in these contemporary cities.

Previous research projects:

 ‘Digital Sanctuary’: Exploring expansion of biometric data since COVID-19 and impacts on urban residents with complex migration status

EU families and 'eurochildren' in Brexiting Britain: renegotiating inclusion, citizenship and belonging, ESRC UK in a Changing Europe programme

Becoming adult: Conceptions of futures and wellbeing among young people subject to immigration control in the UK, ESRC

UPWEB: Understanding the practice and developing the concept of welfare bricolage in diverse European cities, NORFACE

Migration and Toleration in Western Europe, Remembrance, Responsibility and Future Foundation, Berlin (EVZ)

Public health aspects of migrant health: the evidence on health status for refugees and asylum seekers in the European Region, World Health Organisation, Copenhagen

KING: Knowledge for Integration Governance, Foundation for Initiatives and Studies on Multi-Ethnicity, European Commission

Welfare, neighbourhood and new geographies of diversity, COMPAS, University of Oxford

Making the most of EU Funds for Sustainable Housing and Inclusion of disadvantaged Roma (explicitly but not exclusively targeted), United Nations Development Programme, Bratislava

Sinai and related routes: trafficking and smuggling from Eritrea to Egypt and Israel, Policy Development and Evaluation Service United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Geneva


Examples of research funding:

2022-2024: Sanctuary Cities and Irregular Migration in Europe (SPIMEC) Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship, European Research Agency

2018-2021: Welcoming Cities? Understanding sanctuary in securitised states. Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship.

2018-2021: Cities on the Edge: How to create welcoming, egalitarian, adaptable, flourishing cities of tomorrow. Global Challenges Research Grant for PhD studentship.

2017-2020: EU families and ‘eurochildren’ in Brexiting Britain: renegotiating inclusion, citizenship and belonging. ESRC.

2016-2017: The Role of Further and Higher Education as a Pathway from Poverty in London. Walcott Foundation.

2016: Early Career Writing Up Award. British Sociological Association.

2012-2015: European Academic Network on Romani Studies, Fellowship (Funded by European Union - Council of Europe Joint Programme, 2011-2015)

2013 Fritz Thyssen Foundation Award, University of Oxford

2013 Peter Lienhardt Memorial Fund Competitive Award, University of Oxford

2013 Philip Bagby Trust Award, University of Oxford

2013 D & E Zemenides Award for Human Welfare Research, University of Oxford

2009 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship, Central European University, Budapest




Humphris, R (2019) ‘Home-land: Romanian Roma, domestic space and the state’ Bristol: University of Bristol Press/ University of Chicago Press

Book Chapters

Humphris, R., (2022) ‘Recasting the ‘Best Interests’ of Young People on the Move: the UK Case’ in Chase, E., (ed.) Undocumented and Unaccompanied: Children of Migration in the European Union and the United States (London: Routledge) ISBN: 978-1-032-07425-2

Humphris, R., (2019) ‘On the threshold: becoming Romanian Roma, everyday racism and residency rights in transition’ in Can Yıldız and Nicholas De Genova (eds.) Roma Migrants in the European Union: Un/Free Mobility Routledge: London

Humphris, R., & Bradby, H. (2017) (invited chapter contribution) Health Status of Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Europe. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Global Public Health.

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

Humphris, R., (2023) Sanctuary as mobilizing metaphor: how sanctuary articulates urban governance, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (forthcoming)

Humphris R. Legacies of British Imperialism in the Contemporary UK Asylum–Welfare Nexus. Social Sciences. 2022; 11(10):432.

Schweitzer, R., Humphris, R. and Monforte, P. (2022) The Role of ‘Voluntariness’ in the Governance of Migration, Migration and Society 5, 1-12.

Humphris, R. and Yarris, K. E., (2022) Welcoming Acts. Temporality and Affect among Volunteer Humanitarians in the UK and USA, Migration and Society 5, 75-89.

Humphris, R., (2021) Homemade State: Motherhood, citizenship and the home in child welfare encounters, Sociology doi:10.1177/00380385211063367

Samkange-Zeeb, F., Samerski, S., Doos, L., Humphris, R., Padilla, B., and Bradby, H., (2020) ‘“It’s the first barrier” – Lack of common language a major obstacle when accessing/providing healthcare services across Europe’ Frontiers in Sociology in press

Bradby, H., Humphris, R., & Padilla, B., (2020) Universalism, diversity and norms: gratitude, healthcare and welfare chauvinism, Critical Public Health, 30:2, 166-178.

Humphris, R., Bradby, H., Padilla, B., Phillimore, J., Pemberton, S. and Samerski, S. (2020), "After encounters: revealing patients’ unseen work through their pathways to care", International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, 16:2, 173-187.

Humphris, R., and Sigona, N., (2019), The Bureaucratic Capture of Child Migrants: Effects of In/visibility on Children On the Move. Antipode, 51: 1495-1514.

Meloni, F., and Humphris, R., (2019) Citizens of nowhere: The paradoxes of care and responsibility for unaccompanied minors in the UK Journal of Refugee Studies doi: 10.1093/jrs/fez037

Humphris, R., and Sigona, N., (2019) Outsourcing the ‘best interests’ of unaccompanied asylum seeking minors in the era of austerity Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 45:2, 312-330.

Pemberton, S., Bradby, H., Humphris, R., Lopes, J., Padilla, B., Phillimore, J., Samerski, S., Access to healthcare in superdiverse neighbourhoods. Health and Place (2019) Jan;55, 128-135. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2018.12.003.

Humphris, R., (2019) Mutating faces of the state? Austerity, migration and faith-based volunteers in a UK downscaled urban context. The Sociological Review 67:1, 95-110.

Humphris R. (2018) On the threshold: becoming Romanian Roma, everyday racism and residency rights in transition Social Identities 24:4, 505-519.

Phillimore J, Humphris R, and Khan K. (2018) Reciprocity for new migrant integration: resource conservation, investment and exchange Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 44:2, 215-232.

Allen W, Anderson B, Van Hear N, Sumption M, Düvell F, Hough J, Rose L, Humphris R, and Walker S. (2018) Who Counts in Crises? The New Geopolitics of International Migration and Refugee Governance Geopolitics 23:1, 217-243.

Humphris R, (2017) Borders of home: Roma migrant mothers negotiating boundaries in home encounters Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 43:7, 1190-1204.

Humphris R, and Abuhaloob L, (2015) A Double or Triple Burden for Palestinian Children Residing in Gaza Refugee Camps? Journal of Palestinian Refugee Studies 4:2, 89-93.

Humphris R, (2013) European Union Enlargement and Roma Migrants’ Welfare: The Role of Changing Migration Status in UK Education Policy and Practice Human Welfare 2:1, 26-35.

Policy Reports

Loyola-Hernandez L, Wangari-Jones P, Yemane T, Humphris R, Anyiam S., (2021) Community Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Structural Vulnerabilities, Resilience and Migrant Communities-led responses to COVID-19 Leeds: Racial Justice Network

Humphris, R., Wangari-Jones, P. and Loyola-Hernández, L. (2021) STOP THE SCAN: Police use of mobile fingerprinting technology for immigration enforcement, UK. Leeds: Racial Justice Network and Yorkshire Resists

Nira Yuval-Davis et al. (2020) Migration, Racism and the ‘Hostile Environment’ Academy of Social Sciences Refugee, Migration and Settlement Group

Pemberton, S. and Humphris, R. (2018) ‘Invisible Rules: Social Mobility, Low-income and the Role of Further and Higher Education’ London: Walcot Foundation

Sigona, N., Chase, E., Humphris, R. (2017) ‘Protecting the ‘best interests’ of the child in transition to adulthood’, Becoming Adult Research Brief no. 3, London: UCL.

Humphris, R. and Sigona, N. (2016) ‘Children and Un/Safe Migration in Europe’ Berlin: IOM.

Humphris, R. and Sigona, N. (2016) ‘Mapping unaccompanied asylum seeking children in England’, Becoming Adult Research Brief, no. 1, London: UCL.

Bradby, H., Humphris, R., Newall, D., Mahmud, A. and Phillimore, J. (2015) ‘Accessibility and quality of health care delivery for refugees, asylum seekers and newly arrived migrants: which policies and interventions work?’ WHO Europe Health Evidence Network Report. Venice: World Health Organisation.

Phillimore, J., Humphris, R., and Khan, K. (2015) ‘Local experiences and civil society interventions into migrants’ intervention in Europe’ in Gilardoni, G., D’Odorico, & Carrillo, D. eds. KING Knowledge for Integration Governance: evidence on migrants’ integration in Europe. Milan: Foundazione ISMU.

Phillimore, J., Craig, G., Humphris, R. Khan, K., Kindler, M. and Ratcheva, V. (2013) Local and experiential aspects of migrant integration. Milan: Foundazione ISMU.

Humphris, R. (2013) ‘Refugees and Rashaida: Human smuggling and trafficking from Eritrea to Sudan and Egypt’ New Issues in Refugee Research No. 254. March 2013.

Humphris, R. (2010) The EU Stockholm Programme: Implications for asylum seekers European Network Against Racism, July 2010.

Humphris, R. (2010) Refugee Population Guide, Information Centre for Asylum and Refugees, July 2010.

Working Papers

Humphris, Rachel. (2021) A history of the memories of the sanctuary city in San Francisco, USA. Welcoming Cities Research Paper No. 3

Humphris, Rachel. (2020) A history of the memories of the sanctuary city in Toronto, Canada. Ryerson Working Papers Series 2020/5 Toronto: Ryerson University

Humphris, Rachel (2020) A history of the memories of the sanctuary city in Sheffield, UK. 43:2020 Edgbaston: University of Birmingham.

Sigona, N. and Humphris, R., (2016) ‘Child mobility in the EU’s refugee crisis: What are the data gaps and why do they matter?’ IRiS Working Paper 16:2016 Edgbaston: University of Birmingham.

Pemberton, S. and Humphris, R., (2016) ‘Locality, neighbourhood and health: a literature review’ IRiS Working Paper 13-2016 Edgbaston: University of Birmingham.

Phillimore, J., Humphris, R., Klaas, F., and Knecht, M. (2016) ‘Bricolage: potential as a conceptual tool for understanding access to welfare in superdiverse neighbourhoods’ IRiS Working Paper 14-2016 Edgbaston: University of Birmingham.

Humphris, R. (2014) ‘Integration practice in the European Union. Initiatives and innovations by institutions and civil society’ IRiS Working Paper 3-2014 Edgbaston: University of Birmingham.


Public Engagement

Rachel currently works with a range of organisations supporting migrants across the UK, Europe, Canada and North America and is a founding member of Social Scientists Against the Hostile Environment.

Previously Rachel was a consultant for numerous UN and international agencies including UNHCR, International Organisation on Migration, World Health Organisation and the OECD. She was the UK Coordinator for the European Website on Integration 2016 – 2019.

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