Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
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Rawan Arar

Postdoctoral Fellow in International and Public Affairs, 2018-2019, 2021-2022
Assistant Professor in the Department of Law, Societies, and Justice at the University of Washington


Rawan Arar is a Postdoctoral Fellow in International and Public Affairs at Brown University and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Law, Societies, and Justice at the University of Washington. She completed her PhD in sociology at the University of California, San Diego. As a scholar of refugee displacement, Arar studies how refugees’ lives and life chances are inextricably tied to national and global policies, which create or impede access to basic needs and mobility. Her research lies at the intersection of these issues and pushes forward debates about states, rights, and theories of international migration.


Major refugee host states—including Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Pakistan, Kenya, Iran, and Bangladesh—are vital to the contemporary system of refugee management. These countries confront the challenges of porous borders and changing demographics. They address refugees’ urgent needs for food and shelter and the long-term challenges of education, unemployment, and the degradation of local infrastructure. The ways major host countries manage, control, and support refugee populations affects the flow of refugees to the Global North and the operations of international aid organizations. But the ability of states in the Global South to host refugees has received significantly less scholarly attention in comparison to their Western counterparts. I'm particularly interested in how host states in the Global South have been able to accept hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of refugees. I also examine how Southern hosting fits into the international system of refugee management, which benefits from and perpetuates global inequality.


Rawan Arar, Laurie Brand, Rana B. Khoury, Noora Lori, Lama Mourad, and Wendy Pearlman (authors in alphabetical order). “Migration and Displacement in MENA” in The Political Science of the Middle East: Theory and Research Since the Arab Uprisings. Forthcoming with Oxford University Press. Edited by Marc Lynch, Jillian Schwedler, and Sean Yom. 

Arar, Rawan. 2021. “Understanding Refugees” in Societies of the Middle East and North Africa: Structures, Vulnerabilities, and Forces, edited by Sean Yom.

Fee, Molly and Rawan Arar. 2019. “What Happens When the United States Stops Taking in Refugees?” Contexts 18 (2): 18-23.

FitzGerald, David and Rawan Arar. 2018. “The Sociology of Refugee Migration.” Annual Review of Sociology 44: 387-406.

Arar, Rawan. 2017. “The New Grand Compromise: How Syrian Refugees Changed the Stakes in the Global Refugee Assistance Regime.” Journal of Middle East Law and Governance 9 (3): 298-312.   

Arar, Rawan. 2017. “International Solidarity and Ethnic Boundaries: Using the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict to Strengthen Ethno-National Claims in Northern Ireland.” Nations and Nationalism 23(4): 856-877.

Arar, Rawan. 2016. “How political migrant networks differ from those of economic migrants: ‘strategic anonymity’ among Iraqi refugees in Jordan.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 42(3): 519-535.


Refugees and the Politics of Displacement