Social Institutions, Political Governance and Integration (SIPGI)

Sign at Stockholm Central Station, September 2015 ( Wikimedia Commons).








In November 2018, GLD and its partners were awarded a 17.9 million SEK (approx. 2 million USD) grant to study the integration of Syrian refugees in Jordan, Turkey, and Sweden. Kristen Kao (GLD, University of Gothenburg) and Andrea Spehar (University of Gothenburg) serve as Co-Principal Investigators, with Ellen Lust (GLD, University of Gothenburg), Isabell Schierenbeck (University of Gothenburg), Mine Eder (Bogazici University), and Josepha Wessels (Malmö University) assisting.

Migration is primarily an urban phenomenon and one that creates new economic, social and political challenges. This program examines how urban municipalities address forced migration, focusing on changes to neighborhoods' social compositions and influences on norms and behaviors therein. The program will implement a series of collaborative research projects in cities hosting influxes of Syrian refugees in Jordan, Sweden, and Turkey.

This program provides an infrastructure for collaboration between international scholars with expertise in migration studies, political science, and anthropology in Sweden and the Middle East. Using innovative methods, including large N surveys, elite interviews, urban ethnography, and virtual reality 360-video technology field experiments, this program investigates and analyzes the nexus between political and social institutions in shaping integration processes and fills a critical gap in migration studies. The novel multi-method approach launched in this program will expand the availability of comparative data on migration and urban governance at both cross-national and sub-national levels. Furthermore, it will increase our overall understanding of appropriate governance approaches for urban communities facing forced migration. Finally, by extending our knowledge of the prerequisites for creating inclusive societies in the face of traumatic population movements, the program will foster policies and research that improves governance outcomes in both the short- and long term.

SIPGI will be hosted at the Centre on Global Migration (CGM) at the School of Global Studies at the University of Gothenburg (GU), in collaboration with the Program on Governance and Local Development (GU), the School of Arts and Communication (K3), Faculty of Culture and Society at Malmö University, and the Migration Research Centre at Koc University, Istanbul.



Kristen Kao and Josepha Wessels. "From Apathy to Empathy? The Effects of Face-to-Face Dialogue and Virtual Reality Immersion on Attitudes towards Refugees of War in Sweden, Turkey, and Jordan." Organizing Migration and Integration in Contemporary Societies Conference talks conducted at the Centre of Global Migration meeting, University of Gothenburg, November 2019.

Ezgi Irgil, A. Jung, Isabell Schierenbeck and Andrea Spehar. "National visions and local realities: Comparing governance approaches to refugee integration in Adana, Gothenburg, and Irbid." Organizing Migration and Integration in Contemporary Societies Conference, paper presented at a conference by the Centre on Global Migration, University of Gothenburg, November 2019.

Josepha Wessels, "A sense of presence; participatory digital ethnography using immersive 360-video with Syrian refugees in Sweden, Jordan, and Turkey for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person perspective stories." The Royal Anthropological Institute Ethnographic Film Festival Conference (online) on the RAI Panel 12, March 19-28, 2021.

Josepha Wessels, "Refugee Migration and Cities in Jordan, Turkey, and Sweden; using participatory 360-video as a method for research." MIM Migration seminar (online), Malmö Institute for Studies of Migration, Diversity, and Welfare (MIM), Sweden, February 4, 2021. The seminar was attended by Andrea Spehar, who participated in a scholarly debate and discussion with colleagues from Malmö University.


Seminars, Workshops, and Webinars:

Kristen Kao and Josepha Wessels, "From Apathy to Empathy? The Effects of Face-to-Face Dialogue and Virtual Reality Immersion on Attitudes towards Refugees of War in Sweden, Turkey, and Jordan," and "Building Bridges? Intergroup Contact, Power Status, and Coexistence in Jordan," Governance and Local Development Guest Scholar Workshop with Claire Adida, Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, January 8, 2020. 

Josepha Wessels organized a guest research webinar by Professor Dan Zahavi entitled "Empathy, Alterity, Morality." The School of Arts and Communication (K3), Malmö University, November 25, 2020. Recordings are available here.


Upcoming Events:

Ezgi Irgil, Alexander Jung, Isabell Schierenbeck, and Andrea Spehar will present a paper on the interactions between different stakeholders in the refugee response in Jordan and Turkey at the 18th IMISCOE Annual Conference, June 7-9, 2021.   

Kristen Kao. Panel Chair, "Immigrant and Refugee Incorporation in Turkey, "American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, September 28 - October 3, 2021. 



Kristen Kao, Fieldwork in Jordan, November 7-24, 2019. Kristen met with Jordanian academics and students at Yarmouk University in Irbid, the heads of aid organizations focusing on refugees, including Mercy Corps and the Norwegian Refugee Council, and survey providers in Jordan to lay the groundwork for some of the project activities.  

Kristen Kao and Josepha Wessels, Fieldwork in Gothenburg. August 24-31, 2020. Josepha met with about ten migrants from Syria to ask them to share their stories of integration with us. She also collected photos from them and informed them about the upcoming project plans with videos, etc. Kristen met with Josepha as well and accompanied her on some interviews. 

Josepha Wessels, Fieldwork in Gothenburg, July 1-5, 2020. Josepha conducted short ethnographic fieldwork in Gothenburg and established rapport with 10 Syrians living in the Gothenburg area. She set up digital ethnography/participatory photography focusing on the respondents' daily experiences of encounters and integration. She carried out participant observation in three locations in Gothenburg where Syrians meet. 


Related Output:

Kristen Kao, "Localizing Global Migration Governance." Lecture and Seminar sessions, University of Gothenburg, Oct 5 and 9, 2020.

Josepha Wessels, "Immersive Ethnography: experimental Techniques and Collaborative & Participatory Methods," organized by Mark Westmoreland, Leiden University/Netherlands and Rossella SchillaciUniversidade Nova de Lisboa/The University of Turin: Portugal/Italy, March 26, 2021. 

Wessels, Josepha Ivanka; Rahmoon, Jihad; Tobin, Sarah, and Shaheen, Buthaina. (2021). "Syrian refugees in Scandinavia fear they will be forcibly returned to Syria," openDemocracy. Read. 






Swedish Research Council.


This project is supported by the Refugee Migration and Cities: Social Institutions, Political Governance and Integration in Jordan, Turkey, and Sweden grant (Swedish Research Council - 2018-03700), PIs: Kristen Kao and Andrea Spehar.