Picture of Suzan Ilcan

Dr. Suzan Ilcan is a Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology and Legal Studies at the University of Waterloo and the Balsillie School of International Affairs. She has published in the areas of migration and mobility studies, border studies, political sociology, and critical development and humanitarian aid. Her current research projects examine migration policies, bordering practices, and humanitarian aid in the context of the displacement, precarity, protection, and resettlement of refugees.

Dr. Ilcan is currently working on two research projects funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada: The first project, “Humanitarian Aid, Citizenship Politics, and the Governance of Syrian Refugees in Turkey,” examines aid and emergency responses to forced migrant populations. It focuses on precarity of status, space, and mobility, and community-building efforts involving Syrian refugees in Turkey. Based on this research, she has written a new book (with Kim Rygiel, BSIA/Wilfrid Laurier and Feyzi Baban, Trent University), which is forthcoming by McGill-Queen’s University Press. The second project examines the displacement and journeys of Syrians during the current Syrian war, the migration policies and practices shaping their mobility and temporary living conditions in nearby host states, such as Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, and their resettlement in Canada. In addition to these projects, she is currently undertaking research on Syrian refugee experiences of re/making ‘home’ for the British Academy project, Lost and Found? A Digital Archive of Testimonies of Migration, Displacement and Resettlement (with PI: Yasmine Shamma, and Co-I, Vicki Squire).

Dr. Ilcan is the Program Director of the University of Waterloo’s MA in Global Governance program (at the BSIA). She has experience of supervising a range of PhD and MA students both in Global Governance and Sociology. Currently, she is supervising PhD students conducting research in the areas of international migration, international governance and border studies, and political sociology. Dr. Ilcan welcomes graduate students to contact her about their research interests on topics dealing with or related to migration and border studies, humanitarian and development aid, and political sociology.

Select Publications (past 10 years only)

  • Baban, F., S. Ilcan, and K. Rygiel. 2021. The Precarious Lives of Syrians: Migration, Citizenship, and Temporary Protection in Turkey. Montreal and London: McGill-Queen’s University Press. (Forthcoming).
  • Ilcan, S. and L. Connoy. 2021. “Critical Localism and the Privatisation of Refuge: The Resettlement of Syrian Newcomers in Canada.” Refugee Survey Quarterly. Volume 40.
  • Ilcan, S. 2021. “The Border Harms of Human Displacement: Harsh Landscapes and Human Rights Violations.” Social Sciences 10: 123. Special Issue on Human Rights and Displaced People in Exceptional Times.
  • Ilcan, S. 2020. “The Borderization of Waiting: Negotiating Borders and Migration in the 2011 Syrian Civil Conflict”. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space. (Forthcoming).
  • Ilcan, S. 2018. “Fleeing Syria – Border-Crossing and Struggles for Migrant Justice”. In David Butz and Nancy Cook, eds., Mobilities, Mobility Justice, and Social Justice. London, UK: Routledge.
  • Ilcan, 2018. “The Humanitarian-Citizenship Nexus: Citizenship Training in Self-Reliance Strategies for Refugees.” Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography 100 (2): 97-111.
  • Ilcan, S., K. Rygiel and F. Baban. 2018. “The Ambiguous Architecture of Precarity: Temporary Protection, Everyday Living, and Migrant Journeys of Syrian Refugees”. International Journal of Migration and Borders. 4 (1/2): 51-70.
  • Oliver, M. and S. Ilcan. 2018. “The Politics of Protection and the Right to Food in Protracted Refugee Situations.” Refugee Survey Quarterly. 37 (4): 440-457.
  • Baban, F., S. Ilcan, and K. Rygiel. 2017. “Playing Border Politics with Urban Syrian Refugees: Legal Ambiguities, Insecurities, and Humanitarian Assistance in Turkey”. Movements: Journal für kritische Migrations- und Grenzregimeforschung.
  • Ilcan, S., M. Oliver, and L. Connoy. 2017. “Humanitarian Assistance, Refugee Management, and Self-Reliance Schemes: Nakivale Refugee Settlement”. Transnational Social Policy – Social Support in a World on the Move. Edited by Luann Good-Gingrich and Stefan Köngeter. 152-177. London and New York: Routledge.
  • Baban, F., S. Ilcan, and K. Rygiel. 2017. “Syrian refugees in Turkey: Pathways to precarity, differential inclusion, and negotiated citizenship rights”. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. 43 (1): 41-57.
  • Gabay, C. and S. Ilcan. 2017. “The affective politics of the Sustainable Development Goals: Partnership, capacity-building, and big data”. Globalizations. 17 (2).
  • Gabay, C. and S. Ilcan, Eds. 2017. “Leaving no one behind? The politics of destination in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals”. Globalizations. 17 (2).
  • O’Connor, D., P. Boyle, S. Ilcan and M. Oliver. 2016. ” Living with Insecurity” Food Security, Resilience, and the World Food Programme”. Global Social Policy. Published Online (29 July, 1-18pp).
  • Rygiel, K., F. Baban and S. Ilcan. 2016. “The Syrian Refugee Crisis: The EU-Turkey ‘Deal’ and Temporary Protection”. Global Social Policy. 16 (3): 315-320.
  • Ilcan, S. and K. Rygiel. 2015. ” ‘Resiliency Humanitarianism’: Responsibilizing Refugees through Humanitarian Emergency Governance in the Camp”. International Political Sociology. 9: 333-351.
  • Ilcan, S. and A. Lacey. 2015. “Enacting the Millennium Development Goals: Political Technologies of Calculation and the Counter-calculation of Poverty in Namibia”. Globalizations. Forthcoming.
  • Lacey, A. and S. Ilcan. 2015. “Tourism for development and the new global aid regime”. Global Social Policy. 15(1):1 40-60.
  • Ilcan, S. 2014. “Activist Citizenship and the Politics of Mobility in Osire Refugee Camp”. Routledge Handbook of Global Citizenship Studies. In Engin Isin and Peter Nyers, Eds. London: Routledge.
  • D. O’Connor, K. Brisson-Boivin, and S. Ilcan. 2014. ” Governing Failure: Development, Aid, and Audit in Haiti”. Conflict, Security and Development. 14 (3): 309- 330.
  • Ilcan, S. 2013. Mobilities, Knowledge, and Social Justice. Edited by S. Ilcan. Montreal and London: McGill-Queen’s University Press. 519 pages.
  • Ilcan, S. 2013. “Paradoxes of Humanitarian Aid: Mobile Populations, Biopolitical Knowledge, and Acts of Social Justice in Osire Refugee Camp”. Mobilities, Knowledge, and Social Justice. S. Ilcan, Ed.. Montreal and London: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
  • Basok, T., and S. Ilcan. 2013. Issues in Social Justice: Citizenship, and Transnational Struggles. Toronto: Oxford University Press. 202 pages.
  • Ilcan, S. and R. Aitken. 2012. “Postwar World Order, Displaced Persons, and Biopolitical Management”. Globalizations. 9(5): 623-636.
  • Ilcan, S. and A. Lacey. 2011. Governing the Poor: Exercises of Poverty Reduction, Practices of Global Aid. Montreal and London: McGill-Queen’s University Press 336 pages.
  • Ilcan, S. and R. Aitken. 2011. “United Nations and Early Postwar Development: Assembling World Order”. Reading Sociology: Canadian Perspectives. In L Tepperman and A Kalyta (Eds) Toronto: Oxford University Press. Toronto: Oxford University Press.

Academic / Professional Awards

  • 2021-2025. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Project Title: “Border Frictions: Shaping Transnational Relations via Migrant Journeys, Resettlement and Community Building in the Context of Syrian Displacement.” PI, with Secil Dagtas (CI, University of Waterloo). $150,369.00
  • 2020 Arts Award for Excellence in Research, University of Waterloo
  • 2018 Outstanding Performance Award in teaching, scholarship and service, University of Waterloo
  • 2017-2018. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Connection Grant Program. Project Title: “Bordering Practices in Migration and Refugee Protection.” PI, with K. Rygiel and A. Thompson. ($41,800, incl. matching funds).
  • 2015-2019. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Insight Grant Program. Project Title: “Humanitarian Aid, Citizenship Politics, and the Governance of Syrian Refugees in Turkey.” PI, with F. Baban and K. Rygiel. ($199,139).
  • 2014 Outstanding Performance Award, University of Waterloo
  • Canada Research Chair, 2007-2011
  • Canada Research Chair, 2002-2006
  • Director of the MA in Global Governance Program • Professor, Sociology and Legal Studies
  • University of Waterloo

  • Offices: PAS 2063 (UW); BSIA 210

  • (226) 772-3111 (BSIA)
    (519) 888-4567 | Ext. 31022 (UW)

Migration, Mobilities, and Social Politics
  • PhD, Carleton University
  • MA, Dalhousie University
  • BA, St. Mary’s University

Faculty with Related Research Interests

See All Faculty
  • Picture of Alison Mountz

    Dr. Mountz specializes in human migration, with expertise in borders, human smuggling, political asylum, and detention.

  • Picture of Kim Rygiel

    Dr. Rygiel’s research focuses on citizenship, migration and border security in North America and Europe. Projects include research on community-based…

  • Margaret Walton-Roberts March 2020

    Dr. Walton-Roberts, a human geographer, focuses her research on Indian emigration, transnational migrant networks and immigration to Canada.