Dr. Laura Cleton


Research group(s):
6. Migration and Development

Laura Cleton is a postdoctoral researcher in return migration governance at UNU-MERIT. Her current research at UNU-MERIT investigates the involvement of diaspora in capacity building and development through temporary return programs, facilitated by the International Organization for Migration. She investigates whether and how such programs enable the transfer of skills and knowledge to diaspora members’ countries of nationality. It not only questions what this process looks like and what (enduring) effects it has, but also challenges the underlying assumptions and discourses embedded in diaspora engagement for development.

Her dissertation entitled Deporting Children. Policy Framing, Legitimation and Intersectional Boundary Work (2022, Department of Political Science at the University of Antwerp) relied on critical migration and border studies, intersectionality and interpretative policy analysis to question how the Dutch and Belgian authorities legitimize the deportation of undocumented migrant children. It argued that they do so through a conscious attempt to (re)frame the policy problem at hand, by deliberately drawing attention away from the underlying moral-political conflict and the hardships deportation poses for children. Instead, they on the one hand emphasized the diligence of their procedures and their compassionate way of working, while on the other also directing attention to the potential danger that children and their family pose to the citizenry. The dissertation complicates scholarly understanding of the workings of securitization and humanitarianism as means to legitimate migration control, and points to the crucial importance of intersectionality and interpretative policy analysis to deportation studies. Her dissertation co-won the 2022 American Political Science Association's (APSA) Migration & Citizenship section Best Dissertation Award, and was shortlisted for the 46th G.A. Van Poelje Best Dissertation Award, which is awarded by the Association for Public Administration (Vereniging voor Bestuurskunde) to the best dissertation in Public Administration defended at a Dutch or Flemish university in 2022.

Prior to starting her postdoc and PhD, Laura worked as a junior lecturer in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences (University of Amsterdam) and a junior researcher in Social Geography (Utrecht University). She is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, steering board member for IMISCOE's Gender & Sexuality Standing Group, and acts as the secretary of the Dutch Association for Migration Research (DAMR). Her research interests include return migration governance, AVR & deportation policies and politics, (international) bureuacracies, gender & feminist approaches to migration studies, and family migration.

Contact: laura.cleton@maastrichtuniversity.nl 

Find Laura on Twitter, LinkedIn and Research Gate.

Selected publications by Laura Cleton