Sussex Centre for Migration Research

Identity and Cultural Diversity

The research projects within this theme analyse the effects of cultural interactions in the socio-political domains. Drawing upon politics, psychology and anthropology – among other disciplines – SCMR researchers analyse issues of racism, the participation of migrants and ethnic minorities in mainstream society, the role of Islam in the West, and the effects of contested debates on immigration for national politics.

Ongoing Research Projects on Identity and Cultural Diversity

SOGICA - Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Claims of Asylum: A European Human Rights Challenge

SOGICA is a research project funded by the European Research Council (ERC) that explores the social and legal experiences of asylum seekers across Europe claiming international protection on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI).

Focusing on Germany, Italy and the UK as case studies, and analysing how SOGI related claims are addressed at European level – covering the European Union (EU) and Council of Europe (CoE) – the project seeks to determine how European asylum systems can treat asylum claims based on the claimant’s SOGI more fairly.

Team Members:

Professor Nuno Ferreira. Professor in law and project leader

Dr Moira Dustin, Research fellow

Dr Nina Held, Research and teaching fellow

Dr Carmelo Danisi, Research fellow

Facebook: @SOGICAProject
Twitter: @SOGICA1

The Search for a Better Life

The Search for a Better Life: How Partnerships with Westerners shape Thai life chances, social relationships and development

The study examines social relationships produced by Thai-Western partnerships, their impact on Thai individuals, their extended families, and socio-economic development in rural communities. First, partnerships importantly shape individual life chances and wellbeing. They can improve life chances by providing a route out of poverty and the sex industry, or damage them, leading to exploitation or trafficking. Second, partnering produces new ‘family’ structures that cut across generations and cultures, and build transnational relations between Thailand and the West. Third, partnerships can impact on the socio-economic development of a Thai’s homeland region, e.g., if remittances are sent to support the extended family, or a Westerner pays for family members’ healthcare insurance or education. The study uses official statistics and interviews to estimate the scale and form of Thai-Western partnerships. Analyses are undertaken of a sample of Thai partners, their social media sites, their families, and homeland regions, to assess impacts on life chances and development.

The project has been funded by the British Academy Newton Advanced Fellowship scheme and will run between 2016 and 2018. The team members are Professor Paul Statham (University of Sussex); Dr Dusita Phuengsamran and Dr Aree Prohmmo (both Mahidol University).

For more information, please see the project's website

Cultural Heritage and European Identities

Funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme within the call Reflective Society 2012, this two-year ‘social platform’ project begins in May 2015. The research consortium of seven partners has a total budget of just over a million Euro.


Prof. Gerard Delanty is the SCMR researcher involved with this project. The partners include the Central European University, Budapest; the Centre for Cultural Policy Research, University of Glasgow; the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute; Universitat de Barcelona; Université de Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne; and Interarts.


Through a comprehensive perspective that includes the most relevant social and political connections, the project aims to address the proposed topic from a double standpoint, namely, an analytical as well as a public policy perspective. We start from the idea that since the second half of the last century culture has experienced a profound mutation, through which its position and role in the social dynamics have been transformed. Whereas it was previously confined to a purely superstructural position, it now constitutes an essential basis of today’s society. In the context of cultural digitization and globalization the entire cultural ecosystem has changed, which has radically altered - and at the same time, intensified - the

relationship between cultural identity, cultural heritage and cultural expression. This transformation has occurred at the level of the professional cultural sector as well as in society as a whole.


The new challenges and the new potential of culture, where these three pillars - cultural identity, cultural heritage and cultural expression - intertwine, will be considered in the work of the platform along three axes: 1. Cultural memory 2. Cultural inclusion 3. Cultural creativity. These are designed to research debates relating to heritage in the institutions and practices of cultural memory; how the focus on diversity and inclusion impacts on the practices of memory institutions, including on stakeholders and networks;

what this reconfiguration contributes to new or post-national oriented narratives about identity and European values; and how heritage, cultural diversity and creativity relate in the context of huge cultural transformations such as the ones represented by digitization and cultural globalization.


EURISLAM: Finding a Place for Islam in Europe

The EURISLAM project is funded by the European Commission Research DG, Seventh Framework Programme and ran between 2009 and 2013.

EURISLAM is an international comparative research project that analyses how the incorporation of Islam in European Member States is influenced by national traditions of identity, citizenship and church-state relations. EURISLAM studies how these traditions have affected interactions between Muslim immigrants and their off-spring and the receiving society. Fieldwork is conducted in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK.

Researchers on the team are SCMR Director Prof. Paul Statham and Dr Marta Bolognani, then of Bristol University.

background information about EURISLAM

EURISLAM website

The Sussex hate crime project

Funded by a grant awarded by the Leverhulme Trust in 2013, The Sussex Hate Crime Project is a three-year research project which investigates the indirect effects of hate crimes within the Muslim and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans (LGBT) communities.

Sussex Researchers involved are:
Prof Rupert Brown (Psychology)
Dr Mark Walters (Law)
Dr Jenny Paterson (Psychology)
Harriet Fearn (Psychology)

For more information, please visit The Sussex hate crime project website

The city at a time of crisis: Transformation of public spaces in Athens, Greece

Funded by an Economic and Social Research Council Future Research Leaders grant, this project runs from October 2012-May 2014 and focuses on transformations of public spaces in Athens during Greece’s economic troubles. With its four interconnected research strands, the project looks at emergent socialities and shifting interaction in public spaces: from the Athenian metro to decaying Olympic infrastructure, from the forceful eviction of social spaces to the ever-shrinking spaces available to migrants in the city.

As part of the project, an interactive online map was created showing  areas of the city where racist attacks have happened. The information is updated by individual users, migrant communities and antiracist and antifascist organisations. See University of Sussex Bulletin.

The team also produced a documentary, ‘Future Suspended’, which explores transformations in Athens dwellers’ everyday experiences of public spaces in the context of the economic crisis. It was featured in the Guardian.

Sussex anthropologist Dr Dimitris Dalakoglou is the grant-holder for this project.

For more information, please visit the The City at a time of crisis website.

Completed Research Projects on Identity and Cultural Diversity


 A Pilot Study: The Politicization of ‘Immigration’ and ‘Europe’ in Mass-Mediated Public Debates - a comparison of the UK and Sweden (2005-2015)

Funded by a Sussex Research Development Fund (RDF) award, this project will run from August 2014–April 2015.

This pilot project analyses contentious political debates over ‘immigration’ and ‘Europe’ carried by mass media from 2005-2014, in the UK and Sweden. It validates the research approach and methodology underpinning a large major research bid (to ESRC) and facilitates an international collaboration.

The project (and its intended subsequent major project) analyses the emergence of contentious political debates over immigration and Europe carried by the mass media from 2005-2014. The overall aim is to provide original empirical evidence as a basis for examining cutting-edge academic theses that attempt to explain the current phase of the politicization of immigration and Europe.

SCMR Director Prof Paul Statham is the project’s Principal Investigator.

For more information on the project see the Politicization of 'immigration' and 'Europe' background page

Sussex RDF site

The Transnational Politics of Exile and Solidarity:Zimbabweans in Britain from 1965

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council , this project, which ran from 2010-2013, investigated the transnational politics of two generations of exiles, based on oral and archival research in Britain and Zimbabwe.  It was a collaboration with the University of Zimbabwe’s Department of History.

The Principal Investigator was SCMR Researcher Prof JoAnn McGregor.