Kelsey Norman, Ph.D.

The University of British Columbia

City: Vancouver, British Columbia

Country: Canada

About Me:

Dr. Kelsey Norman is a Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Political Science at the University of British Columbia. She earned her PhD in Political Science from the University of California, Irvine in June 2017. Her research examines Middle East and North African states as countries of migrant and refugee settlement and she is currently working on a book manuscript titled, "Reluctant Reception: Understanding Host State Migration and Refugee Policies in the Middle East and North Africa." It asks: What policy options do Global South host countries, specifically those with semi-authoritarian governments, have for engaging with migrants and refugees, and what factors make a state choose one policy option over another? Her core argument is that the policy and academic literature typically mistakes the absence of formal policy as neglect or limited state capacity, but that in reality, an absence of formal policy often reflects what she calls ‘strategic indifference’ driven by geostrategic imperatives. She establishes a series of conditions under which states will abandon this strategy in favor of liberal reforms; namely, if doing so allows a state to co-opt domestic civil society critics or delivers economic or diplomatic benefits. This insight contravenes extant neoinstitutionalist and postnationalist explanations for why states adopt liberal migration policies. She supports this argument with an array of empirical evidence, which includes 150 structured interviews with relevant actors conducted in Arabic, French, and English over two years across Egypt, Morocco, and Turkey. The book provides important theoretical contributions to the literature on migration, citizenship, and policy-making in non-democratic settings, and advances our understanding of policy trends within an important geographical region of migration. More broadly, Dr. Norman's research interests include semi-authoritarian governance, Middle East politics, and migration and refugees. Her writing has appeared in 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 PostcolonialistCrossings: Journal of Migration & CultureJadaliyyaMuftah, and The Monkey Cage Blog. She 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

Specific Areas of Interest


Refugee Resettlement

Syrian Refugee Crisis

Middle East Studies

Authoritarian Politics

Countries of Interest