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Personal profile

Research Interests

International migration, asylum, refugees, journeys, migration decision-making, politics, policy making, public attitudes, gender, Europe

Vision Statement

The primary inspiration for my research are migrants themselves: what motivates and drives people to move; how they cope with and adjust to the social, economic and cultural changes with which migration is associated; the processes through which migrants maintain existing relationships and build new ones; the ways in which their experiences and identities are understood and interpreted in immigration policies and procedures and in political and public debates on migration, in the UK and elsewhere. I am driven by a desire to ensure that migration debates and policies are informed by research evidence rather than anecdote, for all our sakes.


Professor Heaven Crawley joined the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations in September 2014 and leads a team of researchers working on issues of Migration, Displacement and Belonging.

Educated at the Universities of Sussex (1989-1994) and Oxford (1995-1999), Heaven has nearly 25 years' experience of undertaking research on international migration in a wide range of institutional settings (government, voluntary sector, national and international organisations, academia). She was previously head of asylum and migration research at the UK Home Office (2000-2), Associate Director at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) (2002-4) and managed an international research consultancy (2004-6) before returning to academia to establish the Centre for Migration Policy Research at Swansea University (2006-14). Her breadth of experience working with a wide range of stakeholders and with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers mean that Heaven is widely regarded as one of the leading experts on UK asylum and migration policy and practice. Heaven has served as a specialist adviser to the Home Affairs Committee and Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) on three separate occasions. She is a patron of the Baobab Centre for Young Survivors in Exile and Asylum Justice and a Trustee of Migrant Voice.

In 2012 Heaven was conferred the title of Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS) in recognition of her contribution to the social sciences and to evidence-based policy making.



  • Unravelling the Mediterranean Migration Crisis (MEDMIG): In 2015 over one million people crossed the Mediterranean to Europe in search of safety and a better life. Thousands died along the way. We seek to better understand these unprecedented movements in the region by examining the journeys, motivations and aspirations of people in Italy, Greece, Malta and Turkey. The MEDMIG project is led by the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University, in collaboration with the University of Birmingham (UK), the University of Oxford (UK), ELIAMEP (Greece), FIERI (Italy), People for Change Foundation (Malta) and Yasar University (Turkey). It is part of the ‘Mediterranean Migration Research Programme’ which has been established through the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) £1 million ‘Urgency Grant’, co-funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID).

  • Migrants and the media: examining migrant voices in Britain's political debate: Immigration and its implications have long been among the most significant concerns of the British public, dominating the agendas of political parties and covered the pages of the print media. However, since the 2010 General Election a number of organisations have been established with the explicit objective of providing opportunities for migrant communities to engage with the media and contribute to the public and political debate. Funded by the Open Society Foundations, this project explores the engagement and representation of these migrant voices within the 2015 pre-election debate, asking how the voices and experiences of migrants were represented in media reporting and whether migrants themselves were able to have a say.
  • Beyond fear and hate: mobilising people power to create a new narrative on migration and diversity: Across Europe political and media debates on migration and diversity have become increasingly negative. There is growing evidence that narratives of fear and hate have moved from fringe positions to occupy the mainstream, changing the terms of the debate in many countries. This project, undertake with Ben and Jerrys, explores who is driving dominant narratives on migration and diversity and their purpose. To answer this question we examined the factors that shape attitudes to migration and diversity in four case study countries: Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK, focusing in particular on the development of alternative narratives by a growing number of civil society and grass roots organisations, based on values of diversity, solidarity and human compassion.
  • (En)gendering international protection? 'Refugee women', gender and the politics of asylum: Over the past three decades there have been important policy, case law and advocacy developments in relation to gender and international refugee law. To date however these efforts have largely failed to reconfigure the ways in which the experiences of refugee and asylum seeking women are understood and represented. Working in collaboration with Harvard Law School Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, Toronto University, Melbourne Law School, Paris 8 University, Uppsala University, University of Cape Town, Dokuz Eylul University, we hope to undertake an ambitious programme of comparative research across nine case study countries generating new insights into the framing of gender issues in claims for protection, situated within a broader understanding of the contemporary politics of asylum.
  • Evaluation of guardianship for separated asylum seeking children in Scotland: A formative evaluation of the Scottish Guardianship Service, delivered in partnership between the Aberlour Childcare Trust and Scottish Refugee Council, which has supported more than 100 unaccompanied young people going through the asylum system, some of whom are victims of trafficking. The evaluation provided an opportunity to observe the model for Guardianship that has been established in Scotland and to make recommendations both for the service in Scotland and for an appropriate model of support for separated asylum seeking children more generally
  • European network of cities for local integration policies for migrants (CLIP): CLIP is a network of 30 European cities working together to support the social and economic integration of migrants. By encouraging the structured sharing of experiences through the medium of separate city reports and workshops covering four research modules, the network enables local authorities to learn from each other and to deliver a more effective integration policy. This research included work in five European cities for two of these research modules: intercultural policies and intergroup relations and ethnic entrepreneurship
  • Understanding and changing public attitudes to migration: There is evidence of increasingly negative public attitudes towards asylum and immigration issues in the UK. This review aims to assist those working in the migration sector (and beyond) to better understand the dynamics of attitude formation. These include not only factors relating to an individual (his or her psychological makeup, political values and ideology and social-demographic attributes) but also the social, economic and demographic context within which an individual lives (i.e. factors associated with locality) and the socio-economic and political imperatives of local and central government. 
  • Chance or choice? Understanding why asylum seekers come to the UK: There is considerable interest among policy makers in the UK and elsewhere in the decision making of asylum seekers and the factors affecting the place in which they claim asylum. This research, commissioned by The Refugee Council, examines the decisions made by asylum seekers who come to the UK and explores the extent to which these decisions are a reflection of chance or choice. It builds upon the growing, but as yet still limited body of evidence about the ‘choices’ that individuals are (or are not) able to exert over the country in which they will seek asylum, and the factors that might contribute to the decision making process. 
  • Refugees living in Wales: a survey of skills, experiences and barriers to inclusion: This survey of refugees living in Wales represents a pragmatic response to the lack of information available to inform policy and practice in relation to refugee integration and issues of community cohesion in Wales. The survey was devised in consultation with policy makers and practitioners and is located within the framework for thinking about integration developed by Ager and Strang (2004)
  • Coping with destitution: survival and livelihood strategies of refused asylum seekers living in the UK: Coping with Destitution uncovers how the hundreds of thousands of refused asylum seekers currently living in the UK, with no access to legitimate means of securing a livelihood, survive on a day-to-day and longer-term basis. The strategies adopted by destitute asylum seekers are analysed within a sustainable livelihoods framework, to ensure a systematic understanding of the different types of resources to which asylum seekers do – and do not – have access, and the impact this has on their lives. 
  • When is a child not a child? Asylum, age disputes and the process of age assessment: Every year thousands of individuals who arrive in the UK and claim asylum as separated children are age disputed and treated as adults. This research examines the reasons why age is disputed, current policy and procedures for the assessment of age by local authorities, and the implications of age disputes for separated children seeking asylum in the UK.
  • TibetXChange: empowering young Tibetans in North Eastern India: TibetXChange provides a unique opportunity for young Tibetans from Sikkim in North Eastern India to spend time in the UK meeting with young people, community leaders, politicians, policy makers and the public in order to develop their confidence, skills and capacity as community leaders and to raise awareness about the political situation in Tibet.


Education/Academic qualification

Doctorate, University of Oxford


MA, University of Sussex


Degree, University of Sussex


External positions

Senior Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute

1 Oct 2016 → …

Patron, Asylum Justice

2015 → …

Senior Research Associate, University of London

1 May 2013 → …

Specialist Adviser, Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR)


Trustee, Migrant Voice


Resource Person, International Refugee Rights Initative - Rights in Exile Programme

2011 → …

Patron, Baobab Centre for Young Survivors in Exile

2009 → …

Specialist Adviser, Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR)


Trustee, Welsh Refugee Council


Specialist Adviser, Home Affairs Committee


National Adviser to Bradford Research and Development Programme (BRAD), Joseph Rowntree Foundation



  • JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
  • Europe
  • asylum
  • refugees
  • gender
  • children
  • policy
  • attitudes
  • decision-making
  • journeys

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the person's scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

  • 47 Similar Profiles
migration Social Sciences
refugee Social Sciences
asylum seeker Social Sciences
immigration Social Sciences
migrant Social Sciences
gender Social Sciences
country of origin Social Sciences
evidence Social Sciences

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Research Output 1997 2019

Deciding Where to Go: Policies, People and Perceptions Shaping Destination Preferences

Crawley, H. & Hagen-Zanker, J., Feb 2019, In : International Migration. 57, 1, p. 20-35 16 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

migration policy
qualitative interview
1 Citation (Scopus)

Common agenda or Europe’s agenda? International protection, human rights and migration from the Horn of Africa

Crawley, H. & Blitz, B., 31 May 2018, In : Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. (in press), p. (in press)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

human rights
South Sudan

Review of The Child in International Refugee Law, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017, by Jason Pobjoy

Crawley, H., 22 Mar 2018, In : European Journal of Migration and Law. 20, 1, p. 109-114 6 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review

2 Citations (Scopus)

The politics of evidence-based policy in Europe’s ‘migration crisis’

Baldwin-Edwards, M., Blitz, B. & Crawley, H., 30 May 2018, In : Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. (in press), p. (in press)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

social research
migration research
8 Citations (Scopus)

Interventions on Europe's political futures

McConnell, F., Kuus, M., Jeffrey, A., Crawley, H., Vaughan-Williams, N. & Smith, A., Sep 2017, In : Political Geography. 60, p. 261-271 10 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
political geography

Activities 2015 2016

  • 7 Participation in conference
  • 4 Participation in workshop, seminar, course

Unravelling the Mediterranean migration ‘crisis’

Heaven Crawley (Participant)
16 Mar 2016

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

The Refugee Crisis: risks, fears and security in Europe

Heaven Crawley (Keynote Speaker)
27 Jan 2016

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

High level Balkan Summit

Heaven Crawley (Keynote Speaker)
16 Feb 2016

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

Humanitarian Europe?: responses to the 2015 refugee and migrant movements through Lesvos, Greece

Heaven Crawley (Participant)
9 Dec 2015

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Nordic Asylum Law Seminar

Heaven Crawley (Participant)
7 May 20158 May 2015

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course