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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Mike Slaven

Mike Slaven
Dr Mike Slaven
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Seeing Illegal Immigrants
Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
Research Interests
Politics of immigration, security politics, border security, securitization, UK politics, US politics, policy decision making, irregular migration, interpretive methodologies

I'm currently a postdoctoral research fellow on Seeing Illegal Immigrants: State Monitoring and Political Rationality, an ESRC-funded project led by Prof. Christina Boswell which is examining how three European states have "seen" and monitored unauthorised immigrants since the late 1960s. I am researching the British case.

I earned my PhD from the University of Edinburgh in 2016. My thesis, Choosing Security: Political Rationalities in the Securitization of Migration in Arizona, examined why policymakers treat immigration as a security issue. I sought to explain the ways that the issue's purported "security" content changes how political elites approach immigration as a political problem. In particular this work aims to help build a concept of "security politics" that can help to explain securitization in migration policy and other fields. My research also examines the strategies that the political mainstream adopts for dealing with populist right-wing challenges. My PhD received the Outstanding Doctoral Thesis award for 2016 from the UoE's School of Social and Political Science.

From 2011 to 2012, I was a Fulbright Scholar while earning my master's degree from the University of Edinburgh. My Fulbright research examined the restrictive turn in UK immigration policy in the latter part of the 2000s decade, examining how Home Office policymakers understood and related to the increasingly salient popular politics of immigration in this time.

I approach political research from a professional background in politics. I was an aide to the governor of Arizona from 2007 to 2009, and speechwriter to the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security from 2009 to 2011. You can visit my personal website here.