Show/hide main menu

Migration Research Group

Migration Research Group

About the Group

MigMovingimageBased in the Department of War Studies, the Migration Research Group (MRG) is an interdisciplinary group of staff and students with an interest in the study of migration. The MRG is coordinated by Dr Leonie Ansems de Vries.

Set up in the wake of the misnamed “European refugee crisis”, the MRG seeks to develop a better understanding of, and changing the often negative narrative surrounding, migration in Europe and beyond. For instance, rather than starting with borders and seeing migration as a ‘problem’, we shift focus by studying the effects of migration management policies and the lived experiences of people on the move.


The Group’s projects include:

  • Collaborative research, such as the student-led Humans of Calais project;
  • Advocacy;
  • The development of policy advice, such as the Legal Pathways to Protection project


Humans of Calais

Humans of Calais is a student-led research project that gives voice to migrants in order to understand their experiences from their own perspective. The research was conducted in July 2016 when the informal refugee camp in Calais hosted around 10,000 people and was about to be destroyed. Residents of the Calais camp were given disposable cameras to record their daily lives in the camp. These visual snapshots, and the migrants’ narratives that accompany them, offer a unique insight into the ways in which migrants build their lives under difficult and makeshift circumstances, whilst also showing their ideas and dreams.

The research resulted in a photo exhibition of daily life in the camp (currently on show in Bush House), as well as a research report and an openDemocracy article . The research was conducted by: Signe Sofie Hansen, Tara Flores, Ishita Singh and Layla Mohseni

Migrant Agency and the Moving Image

Funded by King’s Cultural Institute and Somerset House Arts in Society Fund, Migrant Agency and the Moving Image brings together MRG researchers Leonie Ansems de Vries and Signe Sofie Hansen with artist filmmaker Imran Perrettta. The project seeks to understand and raise awareness of the conditions of irregular migrants in Northern France after the demolition of the Calais and Dunkirk camps. Through a combination of text, moving and still images the project highlights the daily violence experienced by migrants as a politics of exhaustion. The project is also concerned with the politics of knowledge production and the issue of (re)presenting migrant experiences through visual image.  

As part of the Arts in Society showcase, a short film was produced that highlights the key questions and insights of the research.

Exhibition We Are In Between.21 March 2018, 18:30-20:00, Bush House, The Exchange Space.

This exhibition relays, in text and still and moving image, some of the narratives of the migrants the Migration Research Group met in Calais and Dunkirk in September 2017. More details

Legal Pathways to Protection

Funded by the KCL Faculty Impact Development Fund, Legal Pathways to Protection is a collaboration between the MRG and the British Institute of International and Comparative Law.

This project has a twofold aim:

  1. To highlight the importance of legal pathways as a policy solution (among others) in response to the so-called “refugee crisis”; legal pathways facilitate the protection of migrants’ safety and rights by preventing them from dying and/or being subjected to inhuman conditions en route on dangerous journeys.
  2. To produce a set of policy recommendations for a comprehensive and integrated legal pathways framework

These aims are informed by two principles: firstly, protecting the fundamental rights of individuals and, secondly, solidarity and responsibility-sharing among states. Legal pathways to protection do exist and there are numerous examples where these have been successfully used to secure migrants’ safety and dignity, however, existing pathways have been applied restrictively, lack capacity, or have been ignored altogether. Hence, this project advocates for better use of existing pathways. In addition, it argues for an integrated approach combining a range of pathway options to ensure maximum effect, respond to the diverse needs of those displaced and enable adequate responses to the ever-changing migration landscape.

ARISE: Analysing Refugee Inclusion in Southern Europe’ (Erasmus+) 

Funded by an ERASMUS+ grant, ARISE is a education and training project led by KAIROS (UK). The MRG acts as a consortium partner on this project, which offers a range of professional development courses on migration in Southern Italy. A group of MRG members will attend these courses and, upon return, share the insights gained with the larger student body and members of the public through the organisation of workshops and the writing of articles and blogposts.

More information can be found here


Mohseni, Layla, Signe Sofie Hansen, Tara Flores and Ishita Singh, 'Humans of Calais: a photo essay', openDemocracy, 6 February 2017

Singh, Ishita, Tara Flores, Layla Mohseni and Signe Sofie Hansen (2016) Humans of Calais: Migration from the Perspective of Migrants, Research Report (King’s College London)

Ansems de Vries, Leonie, Jean-Pierre Gauci and Henry Redwood (2017) ‘Legal Pathways to Protection: Towards the Provision of Safe, Legal and Accessible Routes for Refugees and Vulnerable Migrants’ (King’s College London)


Humans of Calais exhibition – seminar and curated walk, Friday 26 January 2018, Bush House, King’s College London

Humans of Calais exhibition launch, Department of War Studies, King’s College London, Friday 11 November 2016



Facebook: @kclmrg 

Twitter: @MRG_KCL

Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions  Privacy policy  Accessibility  Modern slavery statement  Contact us

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454