Mehdi Kashemi focuses on the‘refugee crisis’ discourses

Mehdi Hashemi is currently a fellow at the Centre for Global Studies at the University of Victoria. He is working towards a PhD in political science with a focus in international relations and comparative politics. He holds a BA from the Azad University of Tehran and an MA in Political Science from the University of Victoria. His work is focused on forced migration as well as construction and implications of refugee crisis. His other research interests include international security, Islamic movements, radicalization, and foreign fighter recruitment.


What attracted you to the field of European Studies/ fascinated you about the EU?

My connection with Europe and European Studies is through the subject of my research. As a researcher interested in forced migration, who happens to have lived refugee experience, the 2015 European ‘refugee crisis’ appeared to be a development that was not easy to overlook. In 2015, the overall number of refugees reached a record high 65.6 million, 3,771 people lost their lives in the Mediterranean sea, and the image of Alan Kurdi’s body on the Turkish shore became a symbol of the realities of refugees on the move. The centrality of the European borders and politics in the construction and development of the ‘crisis,’ made Europe and European Studies an integral part of my academic work during my doctorate program since 2016.


What is the most important issue to be addressed in your research?

My research is focused on constructions of ‘refugee crisis’ discourses and their impacts on refugee experiences and behaviors. I am interested in finding out when and how the current ‘refugee crisis’ was constructed and how it impacted refugees. While the crisis component of ‘refugee crisis’ signals the centrality of the state and limitations to state resources in response to the migration movement, my research is concentrated on refugees’ own observations, perceptions, and experiences. Through a discourse analysis of eight major internationally recognized newsletters and international summits on refugees, I am currently studying the timing and nature of the current ‘refugee crisis.’ Meanwhile, through interviews with Iranian and Syrian refugees residing in Canada, I am learning about impacts of ‘refugee crisis’ discourses on refugees throughout their journeys. My aim is to unpack this relation and to learn how refugees are impacted by and respond to such ‘crisis’ discourses.