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Roger Zetter


Emeritus Professor and former Director of the Refugee Studies Centre, 2006–2011

Roger Zetter is Emeritus Professor of Refugee Studies, retiring as the fourth Director of the Refugee Studies Centre in September 2011. His long association with the RSC commenced in 1988 as Founding Editor of the Journal of Refugee Studies, published by Oxford University Press, a position held until 2001.

Following undergraduate studies at Cambridge he completed his DPhil at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex; this research on the Greek–Cypriot Refugees from 1974 was the foundation for a career-long engagement with questions of institutional and bureaucratic power and the labelling of refugees and other categories of forcibly displaced people. In an academic career spanning over 35 years and with regional expertise in sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and the Middle East, his teaching, research, publications and consultancy have included all stages of the ‘refugee and displacement cycle’.

He has conducted over 50 research and consultancy projects as PI or Team Leader, and has been a consultant to many governments and international organisations - UNHCR, UNDP, UNHABITAT, UNFPA, World Bank, ILO, IOM, IFRC, Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation, OXFAM and Brookings-Bern Project - and the governments of UK, NZ, Denmark, Norway and Switzerland and the EC; research funders include ESRC, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, MPI.

Recent research includes: protracted refugee situations (Norwegian MFA); climate and environmental change and human mobility (MacArthur Foundation, UNHCR, Swiss FDFA, Norwegian MFA, ILO); development-led responses to the economic costs and impacts of forced migration, and labour market access for refugees (World Bank, Danish MFA, EC, ILO); the humanitarian-development nexus (Finnish MFA); protection and forced displacement (Swiss Federal Commission for Migration, Swiss FDFA, Migration Policy Institute); framing humanitarian principles (IOM); evaluation of UNHCR’s role and operations in Asylum Capacity Development. 

He has written over 45 peer reviewed journal papers, six books, 32 book chapters, 21 major research reports/monographs, and numerous op. eds. His 1991 Journal of Refugee Studies paper, ‘Labelling refugees: forming and transforming a bureaucratic identity’ is one of the most widely cited in refugee studies. For the centenary of Oxford University Press Journals, the paper was selected as one of the 100 most influential papers published over the previous century.

Recent publications

More publications


Professor Emeritus Roger Zetter currently supervises the following DPhil students: