Dr. Kristen Biehl, 2013-2015
Kristen Biehl is now at Sabancı University, Tuzla/Istanbul.
Kristen Biehl was a PhD candidate at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology and the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford. She holds a BA in Social Anthropology and Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London (2005), and an MA in Sociology from Bogazici University in Istanbul (2008). Her research interests are in migration, urban and diversity studies, with an emphasis on space and place-making, housing and home, informality, illegality, governmentality, multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism in Istanbul and Turkey.
Kristen’s doctoral research addresses two core questions: How are urban contexts of intense migration led diversification socially and spatially experienced? How do changing conceptions and intensifying mixtures of difference relate to particular uses of space and senses of place? The context in which she has examined these questions is a locality of Istanbul known as Kumkapi that is intricately laden with distinct migration, diversity and informality histories, both historical and recent. During her fieldwork in Kumkapi, she applied a combination of ethnographic methods including spatial mapping, extensive informal discussions, life story interviews and participant observation, focusing in particular on the scales of housing and neighbourhood. In her PhD thesis, Kristen is analysing the intersections between narratives and practices of migration, informality, difference and diversity, and those of space and place. Through the lens of migration and diversity, her overall goal is to highlight critical transformations in contemporary urban spatiality and governance.
Before embarking on doctoral
studies, Kristen was both academically and professionally involved in
intensive research within the migration and asylum field in Turkey,
working with a number of different migrant and refugee communities, as
well as NGO’s and public institutions. Kristen has variously acted as
lead researcher, coordinator and assistant for a number of international
and national research projects run by the Migration Research Center at
Koc University (MiReKoC), the Center for Migration and Refugee Studies
(CMRS) at the American University in Cairo, the Anthropology Department
of Cambridge University and the Social Policy Forum at Bogazici
University. In addition, she worked as Project Specialist for the Mother
Child Education Foundation (2010), as Advocacy Research and Program
Assistant for the Refugee Advocacy Support Program, Helsinki Citizens’
Assembly (2008-2009), and as Cultural Orientation Trainer for the
International Catholic Migration Commission (2006-2007), all based in