Lea Müller-Funk is currently a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Research Fellow at the Department of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam. Between 2016 and 2017, Lea was an OxPo post-doctoral fellow at the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford. Before that, she was a PhD researcher at the Centre Internationale des Recherches Internationales at Sciences Po Paris (2012-2016) and a university assistant and lecturer at the Institute for Near Eastern Studies at Vienna University (2011-2016). Her core research interests include migration, transnational politics and media with a focus on the Middle East.
Lea’s PhD focused on Egyptian diaspora activism in Paris and Vienna during and after the Arab Uprisings and was written in the framework of a Cotutelle agreement between Sciences Po Paris and Vienna University (supervisors: Catherine Wihtol de Wenden and Stephan Procházka). It received the Award of Excellence 2016 from the Austrian Ministry of Science, Research & Economy. Her current Marie Curie project SYRMAGINE (2017-2019) focuses on how Europe is imagined by Syrians settling in two of Syria’s neighbouring countries (Lebanon and Turkey) and examines how their imaginations affect their attitudes to seek asylum in European countries. The project wants to highlight forced migrants' agency in taking migration decisions with the idea to understand their living conditions in the first country of displacement and their aspirations in regard to return, stay and on-migration.
Before her PhD, Lea was a trainee at the Department of the European Council and the Council of the European Union at the Austrian Foreign Ministry (2010-2011). She attended Vienna University (BA in Political Science, 2009; Magister in Arabic and Islamic Studies, 2010), the Institut National des Langues et Cultures Orientales in Paris (2007/2008), and Sciences Po Paris (MA in Comparative Politics / Middle East and Muslim World, 2010). She has held research affiliations to the Institut français du Proche-Orient Beirut (2017-2019), Koç University (2018), Nuffield College (2016), the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo (2012) and the American University Beirut (2009).
Lea’s current Marie Curie project SYRMAGINE focuses on how Europe is imagined by Syrians settling in two of Syria’s neighbouring countries (Lebanon and Turkey) and examines how their imaginations affect their attitudes to seek asylum in European countries. While the project focuses on imaginations of Europe, it also includes the perceptions of those who do not want to migrate further and the imaginations of other possible destination countries and a possible return to Syria in comparison. SYRMAGINE understands ‘geographical imaginations’ of Europe as subjective human conceptions of a geographical location and stresses the differences between ‘imagined regions’ and reality. SYRMAGINE contributes to the academic literature on the active role of imaginations in refugees’ decision-making and has two main objectives: 1) to investigate the relation between refugees’ imaginations and decision-making and to study how the present country of residence compares to Europe (and other countries) as a destination choice, 2) to examine how refugees inform themselves about social and political realities in European countries. The project adopts a mixed-method approach combining a survey, semi-directive interviews and an online ethnography.
Lea is currently also working on the publication of a monograph entitled Egyptian Diaspora Activism during the Arab Uprisings based on her PhD research, which will be published in the Routledge Studies Global and Transnational Politics. It explores the links between recent political developments in Egypt and emigration. More specifically, it examines the question of how the revolution in 2011 and its aftermath influenced emigrants’ political perceptions and actions regarding their homeland, focusing on mobilisations in Paris and Vienna. The book takes an interdisciplinary macro and micro approach by investigating policies which influence migrants’ political transnational behaviour and looking at individual activists’ perspectives. Methodologically, it combines a policy analysis, expert interviews, semi-directive interviews and digital methods to study social media.
Together with Félix Krawatzek, Lea is currently also co-editing a special issue on Political Remittances and Political Transnationalism in the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. In this special issue, they advance the idea that the concept of political remittances provides a distinct analytic lens on the transnational reality of migrants, namely the act of multidirectionally transmitting political ideas, vocabulary and practices between different places of destination and origin.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 748344.