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Department of Education

Ilka Vari-Lavoisier

Research Fellow

Ilka Vari-Lavoisier is a Research Fellow on the project ‘International Student Mobility and World Development’  and a member of the Comparative and International Education Research Group’ led by Maia Chankseliani.

She brings to the Department a decade of experience researching international migration, as well as her expertise in transnational mixed-methods research design.

Ilka holds a BA in Political Science (Science Po, Aix-en-Provence), a joint master’s degree in Social Sciences (ENS/EHESS, Paris), and a PhD in Sociology from the École Normale Supérieure, Paris (France). Ilka held Fellowships at Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Trento before joining the University of Oxford. Since 2018, Ilka has been collaborating with various constituencies of the University, including the Migration and Mobility Network, the Department of Sociology, and the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography.

Ilka’s research focuses on the migration and development nexus (visit her website for more information). Over the years, she developed an interdisciplinary approach to international migration in collaboration with economists, anthropologists, geographers, sociologists, social psychologists, and cognitive scientists (see her publications).

Her research at the crossroads of the cognitive sciences and social sciences played an active role in the launch of the Cognition & Migration project. This initiative, supported by the Fiske Lab at Princeton University and COMPAS, at the University of Oxford, received funding from the University of Pennsylvania in the US, the IC Migrations, and the FMSH in France, as well as the Refugee Studies Centre, Lady Margaret Hall and Nuffield College, in the UK. This project developed into a transnational empirical research endeavour involving over thirty scholars from different fields (see PLAN project for more information). As the principal researcher, Ilka supervised the design and implementation of this project led by the CEE at Sciences Po and COMPAS at Oxford (see last publication here).

Based on experience supervising multi-method and multi-sited data collections over four continents, Ilka taught research methods at UPenn, the Universite Cheikh Anta Diop, the University of Luxembourg, and the University of Oxford, with a focus on web-based surveys and mixed methods research. She has a keen interest in hybrid pedagogy and has been developing a range of hybrid teaching material over the last few years.


  • 2022 “Travelling models: social engineering for development,” special issue, co-edited with Jean-Pierre Olivier de Sardan, Revue internationale des études du développement, 248 (1),
  • 2021 “Making Sense of One Another in Crossing Borders: Social Cognition and Migration Politics,“ special issue, co-edited with Susan T. Fiske, The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 697(1), 7-14.
  • 2021 “Forecasting under uncertainty: How networks composition shape future-oriented cognition”, The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 697(1), 99-119.
  • 2020 “Minds on the move: Crossing disciplines to shed new light on human cognition”, WIREs Cognitive Science, Volume 12, Issue (1) 1-11.
  • 2019 “Collective Thinking in the Field: Distributed Cognition in Large-Scale Qualitative Research”, with Paolo Boccagni, Milena Belloni, Sara Bonfanti, Aurora Massa, Luis-Eduardo Perez Murcia, Alejandro Miranda Nieto, Space and Society, 2019/4.
  • 2019 “On the complexities of collaborative ethnography: Ethical and methodological insights from the HOMInG project” with Paolo Boccagni, Milena Belloni, Sara Bonfanti, Aurora Massa, Luis-Eduardo Perez Murcia, Alejandro Miranda Nieto, IMISCOE Briefs on Methodological, Ethical and Epistemological Issues, 2019/12.
  • 2019 “Beyond Social Remittances: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Immaterial Circulations”, in The Routledge Handbook of Migration and Development, dir.: Ronald Skeldon and Tanja Bastia, Routledge Editions.
  • 2018 “Corruption et mobilités transnationales. Les migrants, acteurs de changement ?”, in Transnationalisme économique, social et politique, dir.: Lisa Chauvet, Flore Gubert, Sandrine Mesplé-Somps & Thibault Jaulin, DeBoeck editions.
  • 2016 “Social Remittances and the Changing Transnational Political Landscape” with Thomas Lacroix and Peggy Levitt, Comparative Migration Studies, 4: 20.
  • 2016 “The Economic Side of Social Remittances: How Money and Ideas circulate between Paris, Dakar, and New York”, Comparative Migration Studies, 4: 20.
  • 2016 “Paris – Dakar – Bokidiawé : Retour sur une aventure collective transnationale”, with Flore Gubert, Sandrine Mesplé-Somps and Inssa Sané,, n° 32.
  • 2016 “Une invitation aux enquêtes transnationales. Retour sur le projet TIMME (Terrains Interdisciplinaires et Multi-sites : Migrations et Engagements)”, E- Migrinter, n° 14/2016
  • 2015 “Stepping Back From Your Figures to Figure Out More: From Linguistic to Cognitive limits of Transnational Surveys” in Observing Protest from a Place: The World Social Forum in Dakar, dir.: Johanna Siméant, Marie-Emmanuelle Pommerolle & Isabelle Sommier, Amsterdam University Press.
  • 2011 “Heurs et malheurs des chômeurs créateurs d’entreprises. De la complémentarité entre ethnographie et économétrie”, Terrains et Travaux, vol. 2/2011.
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