Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - MERGE - Migration and the Middle East


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Dr. Nader Talebi (Co-founder and head of Middle East Research Group)

is a Berlin-based researcher at the Humboldt University of Berlin. He studied software engineering and sociology and finished his PhD at Lancaster University on state power and revolution in Iran. As a researcher at the Berlin Institute for Integration and Migration Research (BIM) and before at the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES) at the University of Mannheim, he is interested in studying states, social movements, nationalism and migration in the Middle East. He is currently working on refugees and migrants in the countries of origin, transit, and destination along the migration routes from the ME to Europe. In particular, he explores regimes of mobility and their relations with narratives of migration and citizenship in the ME.

Prof. Dr. Asef Bayat

is an Associate Member of Berlin Institute for Integration and Migration Research (BIM) at Humboldt University of Berlin. He is a Professor of Sociology, and Catherine & Bruce Bastian Professor of Global and Transnational Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA. Asef taught at the American University in Cairo for many years; and served as the director of the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World (ISIM) where he held the Chair of Society and Culture of the Modern Middle East at Leiden University, The Netherlands. His research areas range from social movements and social change, to religion and public life, urban space and politics, and contemporary Middle Eastern societies. His latest books include Global Middle East: Into the 21st Century (ed. With Linda Herrera) (University of California Press, 2021), and Revolutionary Life: The Everyday of the Arab Spring (Harvard University Press, 2021).

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Dr. Firoozeh Farvardin

is a postdoc researcher currently working on gender/sexual (counter-)strategies of authoritarian neoliberalism at IRGAC hosted by the MERGE, at BIM. She is also the affiliated researcher and former guest lecturer at BIM, Humboldt University of Berlin, where she also defended her doctoral thesis on the transformation of the state and social and sexual politics in Iran. Her interest includes feminist theories and movements, gender and social politics, transnational mobility and mobilization, and decolonization of knowledge productions on these issues, particularly in the contexts of the Middle East and Iran.


Prof. Dr. Naika Foroutan 

is Professor of Social Sciences at the Humboldt-University in Berlin. She specializes in integration and migration research with a particular focus on countries of immigration, their shifting identities as well as their prevalent attitudes towards minorities. She has been appointed Director of the Berlin Institute for Integration and Migration Research (BIM) – a research institute based at Humboldt University aimed at providing empirical analysis for migration and integration debates in Europe. Naika Foroutan also serves as an adviser and consultant to German political parties and other national and international institutions.


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Prof. Dr. Serhat Karakayali (Co-founder)

is a sociologist and works as a researcher at the Berlin Institute for Integration and Migration Research (BIM) at the Humboldt University of Berlin. His research has recently focused on volunteering for migrants and refugees in Germany and Europe, migrant advocacy and cosmopolitan concepts of solidarity. He currently leads two research projects on the transformative impact of migration on civil society organisations and the trade unions in Germany. He is one of the founding members of the research group “Transit Migration” and the “Research Network Critical Migration Studies“.

Dr. Özge Yaka

is currently an Alexander von Humboldt PSI Fellow at the Centre for Citizenship, Religious Diversity and Social Pluralism, Universität Potsdam. She is also an associate member of the Einstein Research Group at BIM, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. She has received her PhD in Sociology from Lancaster University. Since then, she has held positions as Einstein Postdoctoral Fellow and as a Visiting Professor at Graduate School of North American Studies – JFKI, Freie Universität Berlin; and as a Gerda Henkel Research Fellow at Collège d'études mondiales – FMSH Paris. Her research interests include critical social theory, theories of justice, social and environmental movements in the contemporary Middle East, migration, gender, body and subjectivity. She is currently running parallel projects focuses respectively on gender and grassroots environmental activism in Turkey and the new wave of migration from Turkey to Berlin.


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Dr. Ramona Rischke

is an empirical migration and poverty researcher. After studying international economics, she obtained her doctorate in development economics at the University of Göttingen. Since then she has been working as a post-doctoral researcher on social cohesion in the context of migration and forced displacement, and on multi-dimensional poverty and inequality in developing countries. One focus of her work is the evaluation of projects and policy measures.





Dana Abdel Fatah

holds a Bachelor of Arts in Middle Eastern Politics from Phillips-Universität Marburg in Germany and a Master degree in Public Policy from Hertie School of Governance and Sabanci University in Istanbul. Though currently focusing on critical and migration research in Germany, Dana Abdel Fatah’s previous research and work experience had a regional focus on Palestine, Yemen and Iran.



Dr. Michele Scala

is a political sociologist specialized in Lebanon and the Middle East. Michele is interested in social protection and labour transformations in the Middle-East and currently coordinates the ANR Programme "PRECARités: travail, mobilités, propriétés au Liban" with Myriam Catusse (Ifpo) and Nizar Hariri (USJ). He has previously directed the research at the Beirut-based Center for Social Sciences Research  and Action (CeSSRA) and has extensively consulted for UN and non-governmental bodies. Michele holds a PhD of Aix-Marseille Université. His dissertation on the imbrications of labor conflicts and clientelist networks in contemporary Lebanon has been awarded the special prize of the Jury of the French CNRS GIS-MOMM in 2021.





Bahar Oghalai

iis a social scientist focusing on intersections of racism and sexism. She is doing her PhD at the University of Koblenz-Landau on Perspectives of Iranian and Turkish Migrant Women in Germany. She is particularly interested in feminist movements in and from the Middle East and regularly publishes texts on this topic for the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. She is currently a research associate at the Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences.

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Dr. Simon Ruhnke

is a postdoctoral researcher at the Berlin Institute for empirical Integration and Migration Research (BIM) at the Humboldt-University and holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Utah. A health economist by training, his research focuses on the intersection of migration, health and healthcare access, with a particular focus on Turkey and Lebanon. As coordinator of the TRANSMIT project he also investigates the dynamics of migration decision making, access to mobility and resulting selection affects in the MENA Region.  


Dr. Latife Akyüz

received her PhD from Middle East Technical University (METU), Ankara in 2013, with the dissertation titled `“Ethnicity and Gender Dynamics of Living in Borderlands: The Case of Hopa-Turkey”. She has held positions as a visiting scholar at Indiana University (2010), Binghamton University (2011–12) and the Center for Ethnic and Migration Studies, Liege University (2014). She worked as an Assistant Professor at Duzce University from March 2014 until 2016, when she, like many other Academics for Peace, was dismissed from her position. As a result, Dr. Akyuz was forced to flee Turkey and started to work as Philipp Schwartz Fellow at Goethe University (2016-2019). Her research interests are border regions, migration, ethnicity, and gender.



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Soraya Hassoun

is a research associate and doctoral candidate at the Department of Diversity and Social Conflict of Prof. Dr. Gökce Yurdakul at the Institute for Social Sciences at the Humboldt University of Berlin.

She holds a Master of Arts in Gender Studies at the Humboldt University of Berlin. Prior to that she completed her Bachelor of Arts in Islamic Studies at the Free University of Berlin.

Her research interests include Muslim women in Germany and Europe, feminist theories and racism theory/criticism, especially anti-Muslim racism.


Dr. Nassim Mehran

is a Berlin-based architect and urban sociologist. Currently, she is finalizing her doctoral research on Space of Urban Refuge and Social Stress at the Humboldt University of Berlin. Since 2015, she has been an associate researcher and lecturer at Humboldt and Charité university. Her general area of focus lies in the intersection of Urban Health, Urban Migration, Middle Eastern Urban Studies, and Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies.  In her primary research, she was involved in studies related to the correlation between urban disadvantages, gender-based violence, and urban space, the socio-political struggles over public space and housing (informal settlements, refugee settlements, and social housing) and civic engagement and the urban social movements. In particular, she works on the notion of spatial justice and the sustainable and participatory urban alternatives in a time of socio-economic or ecological crisis, state of war and armed conflicts in the Middle Eastern context.



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Jinan Abi Jumaa

is a researcher at the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy.  She has a master’s degree in Public Health (MPH) from the American University of Beirut (AUB) and is currently pursuing her PhD at the Charité on self-help/ empowerment-based services and Primary Health Care (PHC) for refugees. Since joining the Charité, Jinan has been involved in conducting research on public/mental health and on cultural differences refugees’ experiences during their settlement in Europe to ensure positive health outcomes for this population. In addition, she has previously worked on the experiences of violence refugee women go through during their journey routes from the Middle East. She is active in the field of women rights. Her research interests are refugee studies, public and mental health, healthcare disparities, integration and migration, in addition to Violence Against Women (VAW).


Ali Niroumand

born into a working class family in an industrial area in Iran moved to Germany in 2009 for higher education studies. His bachelor and master studies were funded by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. Currently, he is a PhD candidate at the Humboldt University of Berlin studying the significant yet under-researched phenomenon of Iranian diaspora nationalism. He works as an interpreter and cultural mediator in pedagogical contexts for children and parents with migration/refugee background. He also provides critical commentary about Middle East affairs for socio-politically engaged cyber-media. His main fields of interest are nationalism, migration, global capitalism, and critical transnationalism in the context of the Middle East.

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Dr. Irene Tuzi

is a sociologist of migration with a particular expertise in ethnography, refugee studies, gender studies and the Middle East. Born in Italy, she holds a double PhD in Social Sciences from Sapienza University of Rome and Humboldt University (2021). She was a visiting PhD researcher at the Lebanese American University (Beirut) and at the Institute of Mediterranean Europe History at the Italian National Research Council (Rome). She is currently a lecturer at Humboldt University, Department of Social Sciences, where she teaches qualitative methodologies. Her research interests include intersectional gender studies, transnational migrations, and refugees’ integration with a special focus on the role of transnational connections between countries of origin, transit, and arrival on the process of integration.


Salam Alhaj Hasan

is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Development Research and Development Policy (IEE), Ruhr University. Salam is interested in conflict studies, development economics and forced migration studies with a focus on the Middle East. Her PhD project examines the Syrian refugees’ economies in Jordan and the effects of different institutional and spatial settings on livelihoods and social outcomes. Salam holds a MSc in Economics from Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. She is a member of the German-Arab joint Research, Training and Networking program and lives in Berlin.



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