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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Dr Ann-Christin Wagner

Dr Ann-Christin Wagner
Dr Ann-Christin Wagner
International Development School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh United Kingdom EH8 9LN
Research Interests
Social Anthropology, Migration studies, Refugee studies, Anthropology of the Middle East, Urban Refugees, Urban anthropology, Border studies, Hospitality, Refugee youth and displacement

PhD Title

Transnational mobilities during the Syrian war – An ethnography of rural refugees and Evangelical humanitarians in Mafraq, Jordan

Thesis abstract

My doctoral thesis explores how conflict and closed borders have reshaped transnational mobilities in the Levant since 2011. It draws on fourteen months of ethnographic fieldwork in Mafraq, a provincial town in northern Jordan, in 2016/17, home to ca. 100,000 locals and similar numbers of Syrians. The timeframe of my study coincides with a specific moment of the humanitarian response in Jordan when stricter encampment policies had exacerbated legal insecurity for urban refugees and the dwindling of international aid had heightened the importance of grassroots and faith-based organisations to Syrians’ daily survival.

The thesis captures intersecting transnational networks of two populations that often remain invisible to policymakers and academics: marginalized rural Syrians that come from, migrate and flee to remote borderlands in the Levant, and Evangelical humanitarians who operate mostly under the radar of the mainstream aid industry and host states.

The thesis argues that in order to make sense of the spatial deployment of refugees and Evangelical aid workers during the Syrian civil war, current displacement have to be understood in the context of more longstanding mobility schemes in the Middle East and beyond. It examines the experiences of displaced people and those who assist them through a transnational lens. It does so by studying old and new cross-border flows of people, as well as practices and resources that help poor Syrians survive and Christian charities turn into professional aid providers. 



Wagner, A. (2018.). "Giving Aid Inside the Home – Humanitarian House Visits, Performative Refugeehood and Social Control for Syrians in Jordan." Migration and Society 1: 36-50.

Wagner, A. (2018). "Remapping the Holy Land from the margins: how a Jordanian Evangelical church juggles the ‘local’ and the ‘global’ in the Syrian refugee response." Contemporary Levant 3(2): 95-109. Winner of the CBRL 2018 Best Prize Article.

Wagner, A. (2017). "Frantic Waiting. NGO Anti-Politics and “Timepass” for Young Syrian Refugees in Jordan.Middle East – Topics and Arguments (META) 9: 107-121.

Book chapters:

Gertel, J. & Wagner, A. (2018). “Mobility, migration and flight.” In: J. Gertel & R. Hexel (eds.), Coping with Uncertainty: Youth in the Middle East and North Africa. London: Saqi Books, 198-222.

Blog posts:

Wagner, A. (2018). "In praise of the scaffolding." Allegra Lab, 12 July.

Wagner, A. (2016). "Tiptoeing Across The Doorstep – Becoming The Daughter Of A Bedouin Family In The Jordanian Province." Abwab, CBRL British Institute in Amman, 7 Nov.

Wagner, A. (2016). "Bad guests? On the role of house visits in aid delivery in urban Jordan." LSE Middle East Centre Blog, 13 June.  

Conference Presentations

2018, And yet they move – Mobility and rural livelihoods among Syrian refugees in Mafraq, Jordan, 4th International Conference on Syria, Centre for Syrian Studies, University of St Andrews, 4 August.

2018, Making transnational families in times of peace and war – continuities between labour migration and displacement for Syrian refugees in Mafraq, Jordan, WOCMES, Seville, 18 June.

2018, At the holy margins – How a Jordanian Evangelical church juggles the ‘global’ and the ‘local’ in the Syrian refugee response, BRISMES, King’s College, 26 June.

2018, From migrant workers to refugees - Reconfiguration of transnational livelihoods through displacement among Syrians in Mafraq, Jordan, Institut francais du Proche-Orient, 30 April.

2018, Transnational Rural Livelihoods in Times of War and Peace: An Ethnographic Study of Syrian Refugees in Mafraq, Jordan, Cambridge Migration Society, University of Cambridge, 25 April.

2018, Precarious mobilities - Labour migration, displacement and rural livelihoods among Syrian refugees in Mafraq, Jordan, Symposium “Navigating Displacement and Humanitarian Responses”, University of Amsterdam, 14-16 March.

2017, Making the edges: How labour migration and displacement produce urban space in remote areas of the Levant, Workshop “Cities, networks, migrations: international mobility in urban constructions”, LAJEH & LabEX DynamiTe, Paris Diderot University, 6 December.

2017, Syrian refugee youth and the [anti] politics of survival, Middle East Studies Association 51st Annual Meeting, Washington DC, 18-21 November.

2017, Have we become refugees in our own country (again)? An ethnography of the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on a mid-sized Jordanian town, GIGA IMES / LAU Research Platform Conference - The Politics of Reception: Syria’s Neighborhood as a Social Field, Lebanese-American University, Byblos, 1-3 November.

2017, Unexpected Mobilities – Rethinking the Role of Movement in the Study of Displacement, Migration Working Group Session – Navigating Asylum and Migration Systems, European University Institute, Florence, 24 October.

2017, Giving aid inside the home – Humanitarian house visits and violence, International doctoral workshop of the project “Mobilities and transnational Iceland”, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, 27-29 September.

2017, "The only place we knew in the world": Trajectories of displacement and translocality in the Syrian refugee crisis, BRISMES Conference 2017: Movement and Migration in the Middle East: People and Ideas in Flux, University of Edinburgh, 5-7 July.

2017, “What’s hospitality got to do with it?” Revisiting the guest discourse in the anthropology of humanitarianism, Work-in-Progress Seminar Series, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, 13 June.

2017, Guest or stranger? Reconsidering hospitality in the anthropology of humanitarianism​, Middle East and North African Migration Studies in a Time of Crisis Conference, Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies, North Carolina State University​, Raleigh/NC, 21-22 April. 

2017, Will spring come again? Exploring precarious temporalities through the combined study of rural and transnational mobilities of Syrian refugees in Jordan, 13th SIEF Congress, Göttingen, 26-30 March.

2017, Unsteady frontiers, wild growth at the margins: cross-border and rural-urban displacement of Syrian refugees in the north of Jordan, Beyond Crisis: Rethinking Refugee Studies, RSC Conference 2017, University of Oxford, 16-17 March. Check out the podcast of my session at: 

2016, "Not your usual suspects" – Multiple displacements and waiting experiences of rural Syrian refugee youth in a Jordanian town, Talking ‘bout my Generation – Concepts of Youth and Generation in Research on the MENA region and beyond, International Workshop, Philipps Universität Marburg, 30 Nov – 2 Dec.

2016, "And yet they’re moving!" - Syrian refugees’ and aid workers’ mobility practices in Mafraq, Jordan, LAJEH Research Seminar, Institut francais du Proche-Orient, Amman, 23 October.

2016, "Still on the run" - How barriers to justice exacerbate displacement for Syrian refugees in urban Jordan, Conference “Access to Justice for Syrian Communities – Formal Challenges, Informal Opportunities”, Lebanese American University & UNESCO-CISH & International Alert, Byblos, 22-23 September.

2016, "Waiting in the queue, waiting for a future": an ethnography of the relationship between waiting and displacement among Syrian refugees in Mafraq, Jordan, Association of Social Anthropology (ASA) Conference 2016, Durham University, 4-7 July.

2016, 'Waiting' and displacement among a population of Syrian refugees in Mafraq - How young Syrian women reappropriate public and private space, SeSaMo XIII Annual Conference, University of Catania, Catania, 17-19 March.

2015, “Stuck in the city” – Waiting as a Core Dimension of Urban Displacement: Strategies of Survival and Resistance among young Syrian refugees in Jordanian citiesMiddle Eastern Studies Early Career Researchers Network (MESNET) Workshop, University of Exeter, Exeter, 31 October - 1 November. 


Senior tutor for:

 International Development, Aid and Humanitarianism (Fall term 2018)

Tutor for:

 International Development, Aid and Humanitarianism (Fall term 2017)

Fundamentals: Ethnographic Theory (Fall term 2017, fall term 2018)

Fundamentals: Anthropological Practice (Spring term 2017)

Guest lecturer for:

- Anthropology of Displacement and Migration (Fall term 2018)

Anthropology of the Middle East and North Africa  (Spring term 2017)

- Fundamentals: Anthropological Practice (Spring term 2017)

- Introduction to ethnographic methods, Yarmouk University/Jordan (Autumn   2016)

Nominated for the Best Student Who Tutors Award (one of the 2017-18 Edinburgh University Students’ Association Teaching Awards)


2012 MSc in Cognitive Science, Ecole normale supérieure/ Paris

2011 MA in Comparative Literature, University Paris-Diderot

Related Work in International Development

2013/4 Research Officer, International Organization for Migration, Geneva

Two years of working experience with GIZ and Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation in Germany, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Jordan

Scholarships & Academic Awards

2018 CBRL Contemporary Levant's Best Paper Award for "Remapping the Holy Land from the Margins: How a Jordanian Evangelical church juggles the ‘local’ and the ‘global’ in the Syrian refugee response"

2018 BRISMES Student Bursary (£500)

2018 Nominated for the Best Student Who Tutors Award and the Outstanding Contribution to the Student Experience Award (Edinburgh University Students' Association)

2017 Khayrallah Prize in Migration Studies for "Displacing Displacement among Syrian Refugees in Mafraq, Jordan", Best Graduate Student Paper, Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies, North Carolina State University​, Raleigh/NC. 

2017 BFWG Scholarship (Eila Campbell Prize, £2500), British Federation of Women Graduates 

2017 British Institute in Amman / Qasid Arabic Institute Scholarship – Summer Quarter 2017

Since 2015 Graduate School of Social and Political Science Scholarship, University of Edinburgh

2013 Carlo Schmid Fellowship, German Academic Exchange Service

2009-2012 International Selection Scholarship, Ecole normale supérieure/ Paris

2007-2012 Scholarship, German National Academic Foundation


Prof Tobias Kelly and Dr Jamie Furniss

Research affiliations

Visiting Fellow at the Centre de recherches internationales (CERI), Sciences Po, Paris (January-March 2018)

Visiting Fellow at the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, Trinity Term 2017 (April-June 2017)

Associated fellow, LAJEH project: Time of conflicts / time of migration: Reflections on the categories and genealogy of migration in the Middle East, Institut français du Proche-Orient, Amman.

Member of Citizens, Nations and Migration (CNaM) Network, University of Edinburgh

Member of Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network (GRAMNet), University of Glasgow