Migration, transnationalism and development

In an increasingly globalised world, processes of development and social transformation are being shaped in new and important ways by transnational flows of capital, goods, ideas and people. The OU’s international development research has a long-standing engagement with these flows, the relations they bring into being, and the social, economic, political and cultural impacts they have. Based in the Development Policy and Practice Group and the Department of Geography, OU academics working in this area have a wide range of expertise, including on the development role of migrants and diaspora groups, everyday inter-cultural interactions, the implications of migration for gender and care-roles, and the activities of NGOs in international advocacy campaigns. Building on our work on increased Chinese migration to Africa and the return migration of Indian scientists, we are increasingly interested in research on ‘South-South’ and ‘North-South’ migration and how these expanding flows might present novel development opportunities, particularly when coupled to the emergence of ‘new’ middle classes in the Global South.

We have a growing number of research students working the field of migration, transnationalism and development, including on the relationship of the Chilean diaspora to homeland politics, the gender implications of Sudanese migration, and the politics and impacts of international volunteering. 

Potential research projects

  • Return migration, skills transfer and development
  • Migration, conflict and development
  • ‘South-South’ and ‘North-South’ migration
  • ‘Expatriates’ and international trade and investment
  • Migration, transnationalism and middle class formation in the Global South
  • Transnational advocacy networks, including social movements, NGO networks and civil society

Current/recent research projects

  • The social and political impacts of South-South migration: A comparative analysis of Chinese migrant integration in West Africa
  • Living multiculture: the new geographies of ethnic diversity and the changing formations of multiculture in England
  • A caring Europe? Gender, migration and care
  • Diffusion of knowledge through migration of scientific labour in India
  • Africans without borders: Diasporic communities and development in Ghana
  • Transnational civil society: Networks, organisations and African development

Potential supervisors

  • Dr Dinar Kale
  • Dr Ben Lampert
  • Prof Giles Mohan
  • Dr Parvati Raghuram
  • Prof Helen Yanacopulos


DPP staff’s respect, encouragement and humour sustained me throughout and continues to do so as I develop my research into new and interesting areas.

Mary Upton