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Dr Isabel Meier

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

Department: Geography and Environmental Sciences

I am a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow working on issues of borders, politics of asylum, race, coloniality and feminist theory/practice. 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) affective bordering/ emotional politics of borders and their entanglements with coloniality; 2) temporalities: non-linear and decolonial temporalities, political possibilities opening up in the present moment, 3) refusals and fugitivity;  4) exploring political engagements/disengagements beyond citizenship through relational practice/imaginaries

Isabel Meier

At the moment I am working on four different projects:


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, (2) internationally recruited nurses in the UK, (3) people facing deportations in Finland 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. 


Affective Bordering: Spatial, Relational and Temporal Politics of Affective Coloniality

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 book shows how bordering processes weave together arenas of historical, political and affective configurations, which cannot be understood within the boundaries of more traditional sub-disciplines such as migration or borders studies. It examines affective bordering and debordering in the context of asylum as spatial, relational and temporal practices and attends to it within wider frameworks of affective forms of coloniality working across registers of politics, knowledge, body, psyche and being. Drawing on writers such as Frantz Fanon, Hortense J. Spillers, Audre Lorde, Sylvia Wynter and Christina Sharpe, the book examines de/bordering through engagements with the figure of the human, body, death, hope and trauma. 


Practices of Refusals as Relating Otherwise

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. We recently published a special issue as part of this project: "Practising refusal as relating otherwise: engagements with knowledge production, ‘activist’ praxis, and borders"


Politics of Belonging and Approaches to Environment and Ecological Crisis: A Situated Intersectional Approach

This 2-year Leverhulme Emeritus project led by Prof Nira Yuval-Davis aims to explore the relationships between political projects of belonging and approaches to environmental and climate ecological crises via comparing discourses in media, policy and general public. Focusing on selected national and international case studies on these issues at the centre of public debate during the last two decades, the paper explores and compares relational, spatial and temporal dimensions of discourses.

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Distanciation as a technology of control in the UK hostile environment, Potter, J., Meier, I. 1 May 2024, In: Critical Social Policy
  • Acts of Disengagement in Border Struggles: Fugitive Practices of Refusal, Meier, I. 1 Nov 2023, In: Antipode
  • Practising refusal as relating otherwise: engagements with knowledge production, ‘activist’ praxis, and borders, Spathopoulou, A., Meier, I. 18 Dec 2023, In: Fennia
  • 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
  • Refusals, radical vulnerability, and hungry translations–a conversation with Richa Nagar, Nagar, R., Meier, I., Spathopoulou, A. 4 May 2023, In: Fennia
  • Micropolitics of Time: Asylum Regimes, Temporalities and Everyday Forms of Power, Meier, I., Donà, G. 14 Jul 2021, Stealing Time, Cham, Switzerland, 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
  • Covid-19 discloses unequal geographies, Kallio, K., de Souza, M., Mitchell, K., Häkli, J., Tulumello, S., Meier, I., Carastathis, A., Tsilimpounidi, M., Spathopoulou, A., Bird, G., Beattie, A., Obradovic-Wochnik, J., Rozbicka, P., Riding, J. 4 Dec 2020, In: Fennia
  • Emotional Borderwork in the NHS, Meier, I., Potter, J. 29 Oct 2020

PhD February 04 2019

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