Skip to content

CES Junior Thesis Workshop: On Research and Methods

Refugee Fieldwork: Experiences from Jordan, Turkey, Greece, Serbia and Germany

December 2, 2016
4:15pm - 6:00pm
Lower Level Conference Room, Adolphus Busch Hall
December 2, 2016
4:15pm - 6:00pm
Lower Level Conference Room, Adolphus Busch Hall

The panel aims at sharing fieldwork advice with researchers or practitioners engaged in similar data collection. The team will reflect on their experiences interviewing and surveying sensitive populations, building trust, gaining access, dealing with fear and trauma, navigating refugee camp politics, avoiding dangers (including after the Turkish coup), methodological difficulties with questionnaires and other instruments, logistical difficulties with travel and ethnography, as well as moral dilemmas. Undergraduates, early stage graduate students, and independent researchers working on forced migration and/or other sensitive populations are especially encouraged to attend. Audiences wishing to learn more about qualitative methods in general, and the Syrian refugee crisis in particular, are welcome.


Anna-Elisabeth Schmitz is a journalist and freelance writer based in Cologne. She holds an MA in Global Studies and International Relations from Northeastern University. She conducted refugee fieldwork in Germany.
Alex Tarzikian is an undergraduate at Northeastern University. Originally from Syria, she conducted refugee fieldwork in Jordan.
Thomas Lord holds an MA in international relations from Boston University. He conducted fieldwork in Greece and Turkey.
Abdullah Almutabagani is an undergraduate at Northeastern University. He conducted refugee fieldwork in Greece and Turkey.
Maisam Al-Ahmed is an undergraduate at Northeastern University. She conducted refugee fieldwork in Jordan, where she also worked as a volunteer in several camps.

Moderator: Dr. Danilo Mandić is a sociologist and College Fellow at Harvard University, where he teaches a course on “Refugees in Global Perspective.” He received his AB from Princeton University and his PhD from Harvard University.


The ongoing refugee crisis in the Middle East has underscored the difficulties of qualitative research on forced migration. This panel brings together a research team fresh from refugee fieldwork in the summer of 2016 to share their experiences and advice. With his colleagues at the Boston Consortium for Arab Regional Studies (BCARS) and a grant from the Carnegie Corporation, Danilo Mandić and his team have conducted an international study of Syrian refugees in Jordan, Turkey, Greece, Serbia, and Germany. With in-depth interviews, expert testimonials, and surveys, researchers have sampled hundreds of refugees across dozens of sites. In addition, they conducted ethnographies in every major refugee hot spot in these nations, including Zaatari and Azraq camps in Jordan, Presevo Camp in Serbia and major refugee settlements in Greece. The data addresses refugee-smuggler relations, migrant decision-making and risk-taking, as well as the Syrians' overall migration trajectory: from the initial decision to leave Syria, to the journey to and through Europe, and to their experiences on site and future plans.


  • Thesis Workshop for Juniors