Image Credit: Mural, Paris, 2017 (Jeanne Menjoulet CC BY 2.0)

In this new reading list, we recommend 12 books authored or edited by women whose scholarship delves into the complex issues surrounding immigration, refugee rights and asylum, including examinations of the lived experience of those directly implicated in legal mechanisms and global processes of border control.

This feature is published as part of a March 2018 endeavour, ‘A Month of Our Own: Amplifying Women’s Voices on LSE Review of Books’. If you would like to contribute to the project in this month or beyond, please contact us at

Migration in Political Theory: The Ethics of Movement and Membership. Sarah Fine and Lea Ypi (eds). Oxford University Press. 2016.

Sarah Fine and Lea Ypi bring together essays from well-known political and legal theorists examining pressing questions including the legitimacy of border controls and the human right to freedom of movement. Clara Sandelind recommended the book as an excellent introduction to the ethics of migration that also offers novel contributions to the field.


Insider Research on Migration and Mobility: International Perspectives on Researcher Positioning. Lejla Voloder and Liudmila Kirpitchenko (eds). Ashgate. 2014.

Bringing together international scholarship in the sociology and anthropology of migration, this volume explores the complexities, joys and frustrations of conducting ‘insider’ research and the key methodological, ethical and epistemological challenges faced by migration researchers as they question the ways in which they come to identify with their research topic or their participants. Michelle Lawson recommended this book to anyone interested in migration, mobility and researcher positioning.

Living on the Margins: Undocumented Migrants in a Global City. Alice Bloch and Sonia McKay. Policy Press. 2016.

Alice Bloch and Sonia McKay capture the lived experiences of undocumented migrants in London as well as the views of their employers, not only showing the challenges faced by those living without documentation, but also exploring current legislation and policies that are shaping these experiences. Gayle Munro recommended this book for clearly articulating the lives of undocumented migrants at a time when the legislative net is tightening.


Border Watch: Cultures of Immigration, Detention and Control. Alexandra Hall. Pluto Press. 2012.

Despite periodic media scandals, remarkably little has been written about the everyday workings of the grassroots immigration system, or about the people charged with enacting immigration policy at local levels. Detention, particularly, is a hidden side of border politics, despite its growing international importance as a tool of control and security. Lucy Mayblin found this ensuing volume hugely impressive.


Marriage Migration in Asia: Emerging Minorities at the Frontiers of Nation-States. Sari K. Ishii (ed.). NUS Press. 2016.

Sari K. Ishii brings together contributors to explore new and emerging patterns of transnational marriage migration in East and Southeast Asia. Amal Shahid found this a valuable contribution that complicates existing assumptions  – such as the perception that it is mainly women from poorer countries who move to marry men in the more prosperous north – and highlights the need for greater legal protection for marriage migrants and their families.

Cosmopolitan Sex Workers: Women and Migration in a Global CityChristine B. N. Chin. Oxford University Press. 2013.

Christine B.N. Chin examines the phenomenon of non-trafficked women who migrate from one global city to another to perform paid sexual labour in Southeast Asia. Overall, this is a fascinating and extremely unusual book, wrote Charlotte Goodburn, which brings together macro and micro perspectives to present a rich and nuanced picture of transnational sex work, based on extensive fieldwork in hard-to-access communities.


The British in Rural France: Lifestyle Migration and the Ongoing Quest for a Better Way of LifeMichaela Benson. Manchester University Press. 2011.

Michaela Benson offers a study of how lifestyle choices intersect with migration, and how this frames and shapes post-migration lives. Through an ethnographic lens incorporating in-depth interviews, participant observation, life and migration histories, the book aims to reveal the complex processes by which migrants negotiate and make meaningful their lives following migration, wrote Michelle Lawson.


Enduring Uncertainty: Deportation, Punishment and Everyday Life. Ines Hasselberg. Berghahn. 2016.

Ines Hasselberg explores how foreign national prisoners and their families understand, experience and feel about the process of deportation from the UK, inviting the reader to question received ideas of ‘foreignness’, belonging and citizenship. Patrycja Pinkowska recommended this timely book not only to everyone seeking to understand the challenges faced by those categorised as both foreign and criminal, but also readers interested in issues of border control and migration.

Transnationalism, Diaspora and Migrants from the Former Yugoslavia in Britain. Gayle Munro. Routledge. 2017.

Gayle Munro offers an ethnographic account based on 200 narratives of migrants from the former Yugoslavia to Britain, focusing particularly on how their diverse experiences unsettle the categories through which migration is often understood. This short book is an important contribution to the small but growing field of research looking at this complex migration history, wrote Catherine Baker.


Foreign Relations: American Immigration in Global Perspective. Donna R Gabaccia. Princeton University Press. 2012.

Histories investigating US immigration have often portrayed America as a domestic melting pot, merging together those who arrive on its shores. Yet this is not a truly accurate depiction. Donna Gabaccia examines America’s relationship to immigration and its debates through the prism of the nation’s changing foreign policy over the past two centuries. Susan F. Martin found this a welcome addition to the literature on the historical antecedents of immigration issues today.

Everyday Conversions: Islam, Domestic Work and South Asian Migrant Women in Kuwait. Attiya Ahmad. Duke University Press, 2017.

Attiya Ahmad explores experiences of conversion to Islam amongst South Asian women who have migrated to Kuwait as domestic workers. Emphasising these conversions as everyday processes rather than inherently dramatic turning points, Ahmad’s book offers a holistic and intimate portrait grounded in her interlocutors’ narration of their own experiences, wrote Dannah Dennis.


In Permanent Crisis: Ethnicity in Contemporary European Media and Cinema. Ipek A. Celik. University of Michigan Press. 2015.

Ipek A. Celik examines the depiction of refugees, migrants and racialised ‘Otherness’ in contemporary European media and cinema, arguing that victimhood is still the primary lens through which such figures are given visibility. While noting a body of contemporary films that may also challenge this tendency, Isolina Ballesteros nonetheless praised the book as an outstanding scholarly contribution to the field of immigration cinema studies.


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