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 received her PhD in Sociology from Carleton University. Before coming to the University of Waterloo, she held a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2), from 2002-2011.

Suzan Ilcan’s research covers three broad areas: migration and border studies, critical development and humanitarian aid, and citizenship, human rights, and social justice. She has published widely, presented many invited lectures nationally and internationally, and received several research grants in these areas. Her current research projects examine migration policies, bordering practices, and humanitarian aid initiatives in the context of migrants’ experiences of displacement, precarity, protection, and resettlement.

Her research on migration, displacement, and the resettlement of Syrian refugees has appeared in several academic journals and public venues, and in a new book, entitled, The Precarious Lives of Syrians: Migration, Citizenship, and Temporary Protection in Turkey (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2021), with Kim Rygiel (BSIA) and Feyzi Baban (University of Trent). This research has been supported by grants she received, as Principal Investigator, from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). She also has a forthcoming book publication (with Palgrave) that stems from her research on Syrian refugee experiences of ‘re/making home’, carried out for the British Academy project “Lost and Found? A Digital Archive of Testimonies of Migration, Displacement and Resettlement” (with Principal Investigator: Yasmine Shamma, University of Reading and Co-Investigator Vicki Squire, University of Warwick). Suzan Ilcan’s new research project, “Border Frictions: Shaping Transnational Relations via Migrant Journeys, Resettlement, and Community Building in the Context of Syrian Displacement,” with Co-Investigator Seçil Dağtaş (University of Waterloo), is a four-year project that started in May 2021.

Suzan Ilcan is the Program Director of the University of Waterloo’s MA in Global Governance (at BSIA). She regularly teaches graduate and undergraduate seminars on international migration and crossing borders. She supervises PhD and MA graduate students, primarily in the areas of migration studies, critical border studies, and citizenship, human rights, and social justice. She welcomes graduate students to contact her about their research interests on topics dealing with or related to her research areas.

Suzan Ilcan is the co-editor of the journal Studies in Social Justice and a member of the editorial board of Globalizations and of the Balsillie Papers. She also serves as a board member of the International Migration Research Centre (IMRC) and Balsillie School of International Affairs. She is the recipient of the 2020 Arts Award for Excellence in Research (University of Waterloo) and of the 2018 (and 2014) Outstanding Performance Award in Teaching, Scholarship, and Service, University of Waterloo.

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.
  • Ilcan, S. 2021. “The Border Harms of Human Displacement: Harsh Landscapes and Human Rights Violations.” Social Sciences 10: 123. For the Special Issue: Human Rights and Displaced People in Exceptional Times.
  • Ilcan, S. and L. Connoy. 2021. “Critical Localism and the Privatisation of Refuge: The Resettlement of Syrian Newcomers in Canada.” Refugee Survey Quarterly. 40 (3): 293-314.
  • Ilcan, S. 2020. “The Borderization of Waiting: Negotiating Borders and Migration in the 2011 Syrian Civil Conflict”. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space. For the Special Issue: Border Violence and Alternative Horizons of Migration.
  • 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

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