Dr Georgia Cole



Research Interests

Georgia’s research explores migration dynamics and diplomacy between the Horn of Africa and the Gulf States and seeks to understand what role states such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates play, and have played, in global systems of displacement and humanitarianism. Through tracing the experiences of displaced individuals who have opted to realise certain forms of ‘protection’ in states where refugee status is not available to them, this project will ask questions about alternatives to asylum and the history of so-called ‘non-traditional donors’ in providing them.

Her broader research interests include: critical approaches to durable solutions; the cancellation and end of refugee status; displacement in the Horn of Africa; and Eritrean politics.  


Georgia was the Joyce Pearce Junior Research Fellow at Lady Margaret Hall and the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford. Prior to this, she completed her DPhil at the University of Oxford’s Department of International Development. This traced how, when and why refugee status ends for certain populations, namely when the ‘ceased circumstances’ Cessation Clause of the 1951 Convention is applied by states and UNHCR to populations that are no longer considered to need international protection. She has a BA in Geography from the University of Cambridge and an MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies from the University of Oxford.

Her teaching has spanned doctoral, graduate and undergraduate courses, and has covered an eclectic range of courses in geography, development studies, refugee studies and social science research methods. She is one of the Director of Studies for Geography at Newnham College. She is the Book Review Editor for the Journal of Refugee Studies, and a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Eritrean Studies. She has written for outlets including The GuardianThe EconomistThe Independent, The Conversation and Open Democracy.

In May 2020, she took up a post as a Chancellor’s Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. 

Recent Publications

Cole, G. (2020) ‘Pluralising Geographies of Refuge‘, Progress in Human Geography.

Cole, G. (2020) ‘Article 1C of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees’, Book chapter, OUP Handbook on Refugee Law, Oxford University Press (forthcoming).

Cole, G. (2020) ‘Forced departures from Saudi Arabia: new displacement dynamics and challenges of protection‘, Blog, Research and Evidence Facility for the EU Emergency Trust fund for Africa. 

Cole, G. (2020) ‘”For now, we are still circling”: Stories of displacement from Eritrea‘, Blog, The Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement.

Cole, G. (2019) ‘Migration complexity requires a less conditional compassion’, Open Democracy blog post

Cole, G. (2019) ‘Avoiding refugee status and alternatives to asylum’, RSC Research in Brief, No. 14. Available at: https://www.rsc.ox.ac.uk/publications/research-in-brief-avoiding-refugee-status-and-alternatives-to-asylum

Cole, G. (2019) ‘Systemic ambivalence in authoritarian contexts: The case of opinion formation in Eritrea’, Political Geography (73),  Pp  28-37

‘Rapid fragility and migration assessment of Eritrea’, update for Research and Evidence Facility for the EU Trust Fund for Africa/GSRDC.

Cole, G. (2018) ‘How friends become foes: exploring the role of documents in shaping UNHCR’s behaviour’, Third World Quarterly, 1-17.

Cole, G. (2018) ‘The Role of the International Community in Eritrea’s Post-liberation Phase of Exception’ in Woldemikeal, T. (ed) Postliberation Eritrea, 25th Anniversary: The Rise and Fall of an African Renaissance State. Indiana Press: Forthcoming.

Cole, G. (2018) ‘“But if Locals Are Poorer than You, How Would You Justify Additional Help?”: Rethinking the Purpose of Sensitive Interview Questions’, Refugee Survey Quarterly37(3): 328-352.

Cole, G. (2018) ‘Questioning the value of ‘refugee’ status and its primary vanguard: the case of Eritreans in Uganda’, RSC Working Paper Series, No 124. Available at: https://www.rsc.ox.ac.uk/publications/questioning-the-value-of-refugee-status-and-its-primary-vanguard-the-case-of-eritreans-in-uganda

Cole G. (2017) ‘The role of semiotics in connecting the abstract spaces and embodied experiences of refugee politics’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 42(2): 303-316 

Cole, G. (2017) ‘Beyond Labelling: Rethinking the Role and Value of the Refugee ‘Label’ through Semiotics’, Journal of Refugee Studies, 31(1): 1-21

Cole, G. (2017) ‘Uganda’s unsung heroes of refugee protection’, Available at: https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/georgia-cole/uganda-s-unsung-heroes-of-refugee-protection

Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E., Lewis, C. and Cole, G. ‘The role of Faith-based approaches in engendering understandings of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence’ in Buckley, Z. and Krause, U. (Eds) Gender, Violence and Refugee Communities. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books.