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Dr Isabel Meier

Research Fellow

Department: Geography and Environmental Sciences

I am a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in Human Geography, working on issues of borders, politics of asylum and feminist methodologies. I completed my PhD at the Centre for Research on Migration, Refugees and Belonging at the University of East London in 2018 and have held teaching and research postdocs at Space and Political Agency Group at Tampere University, University of Northampton and University of East London. 


My research interests are oriented around four main areas: 1) the emotional politics of borders: the politics of dis/comfort, disappointment, alienation; emotional labours and its entanglements with bordering practices; 2) the politics of temporality: futurity and political possibilities opening up in the present moment, 3) the politics of refusals; decolonial theory and borders, 4) political possibilities beyond citizenship

Isabel Meier

At the moment I am working on four different projects:


Body Politics of Dis/comfort as Quiet Colonial Frontier in the Context of EU Border Struggles

This is a book project based on my PhD that grew out of long-term ethnographic work and activist involvement in different forms of border struggles in Berlin and London between 2015 and 2018. The main argument of the book is that borders are enforced, experienced and negotiated through politics of dis/comfort. The book attends to the politics of discomfort as body politics and looks at them through the lens of emotional labours, colonial politics, political ontologies as well as temporalities of dis/comfort. The book aims to show how attending to politics of dis/comfort allows us to draw continuities between histories of colonialism and the current political negotiation of borders. Incorporating politics of discomfort in our framework of studying borders demands us to rethink questions of political agency and possibility as well as the risk of becoming complicit in actively erasing traces of affective power and quieter forms of action.


Politics of Refusals 

This joint project with Dr. Aila Spathopoulou reflects on the politics of refusal in the context of border struggles; that is, how differently situated subjects enact refusal through their struggles against a transnational regime that tries to impose borders through our everyday lives. As researchers and activists, we have witnessed an engagement in a politics of refusal to negotiate racial and colonial dominance articulated in research and solidarity encounters, as well as with the state, humanitarian agencies and transnational corporations in the context of the so-called “refugee crisis” and hotspot management at EU borders. 


Climate change and the Politics of Belonging: A situated intersectional approach

This 2-year Leverhulme Emeritus project led by Prof Nira Yuval-Davis aims to explore how the growing concern over the extreme effects of climate changes affects governments and everyday people’s politics. At a time when nativist movements and anti-immigration sentiments grow all over the world, there is also a recognition that these issues cannot be solved on a national basis and that climate change has become a major new driver of human displacement and migration. The research examines media and policy debates as well as grass roots activism on these issues.


Everyday Politics of Survival and Hope at European Borderscapes 

This three year ECR Leverhulme project seeks to explore migrants’ agencies and experiences of survival and hope through four case studies of European borderscapes: (1) seasonal workers in Germany (the seasonal borderscape), (2) healthcare access in the UK (the healthcare borderscape), (3) deportations in Finland (the deportation borderscape) and (4) migrants living on Greek islands (the camp borderscape). One key objective of this project is to rethink the concept of survival by exploring everyday practices and adaptive strategies of migrants. Rather than depoliticising survival as ‘bare life’, this project puts the argument forward that survival - its practices, affects, narratives as well as socialities - offers us something important and interesting to think with: it opens the way to new possibilities for the political, and hence for addressing and negotiating forms of border violence and inequality as well as hope for revising state border regimes themselves. The objective is to shift scholarly and public perception of survival struggles away from being a form of resignation, withdrawal or disengagement, to struggles of endurance and resistance within biopolitical, necropolitical and affective forms of governance. 

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Acts of Disengagement in Border Struggles: Fugitive Practices of Refusal, Meier, I. 22 May 2023, In: Antipode
  • Press discourses on ecological crises in the UK, Israel, and Hungary, Yuval-Davis, N., Meier, I., Rosen, R., Varjú, V. 26 Jul 2023, In: Frontiers in Sociology
  • Micropolitics of Time: Asylum Regimes, Temporalities and Everyday Forms of Power, Meier, I., Donà, G. 14 Jul 2021, Stealing Time, Cham, Palgrave Macmillan
  • Radical Hope in Refugee Political Agency: Reaching Beyond Linear Temporalities, Kallio, K., Meier, I., Häkli, J. 13 Dec 2021, In: Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
  • Affective border violence: Mapping everyday asylum precarities across different spaces and temporalities, Meier, I. 1 Nov 2020, In: Emotion, Space and Society

PhD November 21 2018

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