Kelsey Norman, Ph.D.

Rice University

Phone: +1 713 348 2997

Address: Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy - MS 40 P.O. Box 1892

City: Houston, Texas - 77251-1892

Country: United States

About Me:

I am the Kelly Day Fellow in Women’s Rights, Human Rights & Refugees at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. I earned my PhD in Political Science from the University of California, Irvine in June 2017. My research focuses on migration, refugees, and women's rights in the Middle East and North Africa. My writing has been published in academic journals including the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, the Journal of Middle East and North African Migration StudiesInternational Journal of Migration and Border Studies, the Journal of the Middle East and AfricaÉgypte/Monde arabe, Refugee ReviewThe Postcolonialist, and Crossings: Journal of Migration & CultureMy book manuscript, "Reluctant Reception: Understanding Host State Migration and Refugee Policies in the Middle East and North Africa," is currently under review. I have also published policy-oriented articles in The Monkey Cage Blog, Political Violence at a Glance, Jadaliyya, and Muftah, and have given radio and television interviews related to my research. I received a Master of Public Policy (MPP) from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Research Interests

Immigration & Citizenship


Middle East & North African Politics

Comparative Political Institutions

Gender and Politics


Refugee Resettlement

Syrian Refugee Crisis

Middle East Studies

Authoritarian Politics


Countries of Interest






Journal Articles:

(2019) Inclusion, Exclusion or Indifference? Redefining Migrant and Refugee Host State Engagement Options in Mediterranean ‘Transit’ Countries, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies

What determines policies toward migrants and refugees in the transit-turned-host countries? Compared to the vast literature examining migration to Europe and North America, we know relatively little about why ‘newer’ host states pursue a liberal strategy with access to residency, employment and services on par with citizens, or what drives them to treat migrants and refugees with exclusion. This paper argues that there is a third choice: the idea of indifference-as-policy. Indifference refers to indirect action on the part of the host state, whereby a state defers to international organisations and civil society actors to provide basic services to migrants and refugees. The paper uses data collected over two years in Egypt, Morocco and Turkey to examine how this tripartite understanding of engagement maps onto empirical reality. Drawing on this analysis, the argument in this paper is two-fold. First, indifference is a strategic form of engagement utilised by host states, and that it creates a specific type of environment that allows for the de facto integration of migrants and refugees. Second, even when host states take steps toward a more liberal engagement strategy, examining policy outcomes, rather than outputs, demonstrates that indifference is still the dominant policy.

(2016) Between Europe and Africa: Morocco as a Country of Immigration, The Journal of the Middle East and Africa

In September 2013, the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, made an announcement that startled the country’s civil society: Morocco would be reforming its national migration policy. Specifically, he called for the drafting of a new comprehensive policy on immigration with the intention of providing a path to regularization for migrants, the majority of whom originate from West African states. Why did the Moroccan government suddenly change its approach to migration, and what consequences has this had for civil society and for migrants and refugees residing in Morocco? While explanations for the migration policy reform tend to focus on the role of the European Union, a secondary explanation is Morocco’s desire to play a leading role in Africa, both economically and geopolitically. Using approximately fifty interviews conducted between January and April 2015 in Rabat, Morocco, this study analyzes the reform process and examines competing explanations, paying particular attention to regional power structures, bilateral relations between Morocco and its West African and European neighbors, and domestic decision-making apparatuses.

Media Appearances:

TV Appearances:

(2018) CGTN America

Interviewed about my participation with Natkallam, a NGO that pairs Arabic language students with Syrian refugees living in the Middle East.

Radio Appearances:

(2017) Policy Talks

Interviewed about my research on refugee host states in the Middle East and North Africa.

(2016) WNYC's The Takeaway

Interviewed about Morocco's changing migration policies.

Newspaper Quotes:

(2016) Marketplace Morning Report

Interviewed along with my Syrian refugee language partner about our participation with a start-up.