Kirsten McConnachie


  • 0.16A Earlham Hall

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Interested in supervising projects related to forced migration and asylum; international refugee law; refugee camps; displacement in and from South and Southeast Asia; legal pluralism and law beyond the state; land governance; community land ownership; land restitution; transitional justice. Preference for supervising socio-legal, qualitative and/or ethnographic research.

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Personal profile

Academic Background

Kirsten McConnachie is Professor of Socio-Legal Studies at the University of East Anglia and Associate Dean for Postgraduate Research in the Faculty of Social Science. She is a Research Associate at the University of Oxford's Refugee Studies Centre. 

I joined UEA as a Senior Lecturer in Law in April 2018, having previously held posts at the University of Warwick (Assistant Professor, 2015- 2018), University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre (Junior Research Fellow, 2012-2015), and the University of Edinburgh (Research Fellow 2011-2012). I studied at Queen's University Belfast (PhD in Law), University of Nottingham (LLM in the Law of Armed Conflict) and the University of Glasgow (LLB in Scots Law).

My research is socio-legal and interdisciplinary. A central concern in my work has been to acknowledge the role of non-state actors in governance and more broadly to understand the meaning of community – in refugee camps and contexts of displacement and in the UK. I have carried out extensive fieldwork in southeast Asia, including with Karen refugees living in camps in Thailand and with ethnic Chin refugees in Malaysia and India.

My first book, Governing Refugees (Routledge 2014), analysed governance and justice in refugee camps in Thailand and was awarded the Socio-Legal Studies Association early career book prize. I have also published on topics including governance by armed groups; the history and management of refugee camps; legal pluralism and non-state justice systems; legal anthropology and informal governance; forced migration in southeast Asia; the role of victims in transitional justice; and constitutional reform.

In addition to my work in refugee and forced migration studies, I am also currently working on a Leverhulme-funded socio-legal study of community land ownership in Scotland. My research has been funded by major funders including the Leverhulme Trust, AHRC, John Fell Fund, Wenner-Gren Foundation and the Emslie Horniman Trust.

I am a series editor for Berghahn's series in Forced Migration and an editorial board member of the Journal of Human Rights Practice, International Journal of Refugee Law and Social and Legal Studies. I am a member of the UKRI Talent Panel College (for early career fellowships).

I regularly present my work at invited seminars in the UK and internationally, and in 2022 delivered the annual Elizabeth Colson lecture at the University of Oxford. I have been interviewed by media as an expert on refugee issues and on Burma/Myanmar (including BBC World Service, BBC Asian News Service, Channel News Asia, France News 24 and Al-Jazeera) and have written for online media including The Conversation, openDemocracy, The Diplomat, Lacuna, and The Muslim Debate.

Current PhD students: Moe SuzukiConnie Hodgkinson Lahiff; Bo Bottomley

Key Research Interests

Refugee studies and international refugee law; Burma/Myanmar politics, with a particular focus on displacement; socio-legal studies; criminology, legal anthropology, particularly informal/non-state justice systems and legal pluralism; transitional justice; research methods and ethnography.  


Administrative Posts

Associate Dean of Postgraduate Research, Social Sciences Faculty

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

External positions

UKRI Talent Panel College, UKRI Talent Panel College

12 Dec 202212 Dec 2025

Editorial Board, Social and Legal Studies

1 Jun 2022 → …

Editorial Board, International Journal of Refugee Law

1 Jun 2020 → …

Visiting Fellow, University of Edinburgh

1 Nov 201915 Dec 2019

Series Editor, Berghahn Books

1 Jun 2017 → …

Editorial Board, Journal of Human Rights Practice

1 Jun 2016 → …

Research Associate, University of Oxford

1 Oct 2015 → …


  • Law (General)
  • Socio-legal studies
  • International law
  • International refugee law
  • Anthropology
  • Anthropology of Law
  • Anthropology of Forced Migration
  • Refugee studies


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