Dr. Kelsey Norman will present her latest book, Reluctant Reception: Refugees, Migration and Governance in the Middle East and North Africa. Seeking to understand why host states treat migrants and refugees inclusively, exclusively, or without any direct engagement, Dr. Norman offers an original, comparative analysis of the politics of asylum seeking and migration in the Middle East and North Africa. While current classifications of migrant and refugee engagement in the Global South mistake the absence of formal policy and law for neglect, Reluctant Reception proposes the concept of “strategic indifference,” where states proclaim to be indifferent toward migrants and refugees, thereby inviting international organizations and local nongovernmental organizations to step in and provide services on the state’s behalf.

Using the cases of Egypt, Morocco, and Turkey to develop her theory of “strategic indifference,” Norman demonstrates how, by allowing migrants and refugees to integrate locally into large informal economies, and by allowing organizations to provide basic services, host countries receive international credibility while only spending minimal state resources.

The presentation and Q&A will be moderated by MEI Faculty Director Professor Tarek Masoud.

Kelsey Norman, Ph.D., is a fellow for the Middle East at Rice University’s Baker Institute and director of the Women’s Rights, Human Rights and Refugees Program. Her research focuses on refugee and migration issues in the Middle East and globally, as well as women’s rights, human rights, comparative political institutions, international relations, and Middle East and North African politics.

Her book, “Reluctant Reception: Refugees, Migration, and Governance in the Middle East and North Africa,” was published by Cambridge University Press in 2021. The book is based on three years of fieldwork in Egypt, Morocco and Turkey and is adapted from her doctoral dissertation, which was chosen for the Best Dissertation award by the Migration and Citizenship section of the American Political Science Association.

Her research has been published in academic journals including the European Journal of International Relations, International Studies Review, the Journal of North African Studies, International Migration Review, the International Journal of Migration and Border Studies, and the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, among others. She has also published policy-oriented articles in The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy. Her article, “Rice Countries Cannot Outsource Their Migration Dilemmas,” won the 2021 Perry World House-Foreign Affairs Emerging Scholars Policy Prize. She regularly gives radio and television interviews and public lectures on topics related to her research and analysis. Additionally, she is an advisory board member of Refugees Solidarity Network in New York.

Prior to joining the Baker Institute, Norman was an SSHRC postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Political Science at the University of British Columbia and a postdoctoral fellow at the Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy at the University of Denver.

She received her doctorate in political science from the University of California, Irvine, a master of public policy from the University of Toronto, and a bachelor of arts from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.