Anja van Heelsum is an associate professor at the Department of Political Science of the University of Amsterdam, since 2010. She holds an MA in Social Psychology and worked on her PhD on ethnic identity with the Methodology Department of the Free University. From 1997-2010 she was employed by the Institute of Migration and Ethnic Studies (IMES) of the University of Amsterdam.


She was the Project Coordinator (PI) of the H2020 Research Consortium (2019-2023), and is now publishing about the fieldwork that took place in the project.

Advancing Alternative Migration Governance.


She is particularly fascinated by the interplay between migrants’ motives and migration policies.  With a broad experience as a  migration scholar, she worked on a variety of subjects, including migrants aspirations, the refugee ‘crisis’, refugee reception, local policies on immigrants, ethnicity, political participation of immigrants, migrant organisations, and Islam (see research themes and projects on this website).

Her regional specialisations are the Mediterranean area (Spain, Greece, Turkey, Morocco) and the Horn of Africa (Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia). She is committed to a multidisciplinary approach to migration and ethnic studies and political science subjects, where insights from psychology, political science, sociology and anthropology meet.

Board membership

Anja is a board member of the Amsterdam Research Centre on Migration (ARC-M), a board member of IMISCOE, and the journals Ethnic and Racial Studies (ERS) and  PanAfrican Journal of Governance and Development (PJGD).

She has been involved in many committees, councils and advisory boards both within the university (works council, university forum) and outside the university.

Visiting Researcher

Her sabbatical was at NIMAR in Rabat (Morocco, 2012) and the University of Mek’ele and Addis Abeba in Ethiopia.



Anja is a supervisor of PhD students and teaches in interdisciplinary programs on migration issues and in the Political Science BA and MA in International Relations and Conflict Studies.

Current courses:

Earlier courses:

  • ‘Introduction to Conflict Studies’, elective in the Bachelor Political Science  (2011)’Verdieping van onderzoeksmethoden’ 2nd-year course in the Bachelor Politicologie, coordination and teaching (2011-2017)
  • Foreign Aid, Development, and the Politics of Legitimation in Africa, MA Political Science (2020)
  • The politics of international migration and asylum MA Political Science (2019)
  • Transnational Politics, a core course in the MA Political Science, portfolio discussant (2017)
  • Coordinator second year of the BA program Political Science  (Sept 2013-2017)
  • Coordinator Method Line Bachelor Program and Blended Learning project UvA (sept-nov 2017)
  • ‘Dynamics of International Migration and Integration, theories and concepts’ within the Masters Migration and Ethnic Studies (MES) at the International Schools of Social Sciences, UvA (2004-2010)
  • ‘Immigrant and Ethnic Issues and the Practice of Social Work’ in the Masters Social Policy and Social Work in Urban Areas (SPSW) at the International School of Social Sciences UvA (2006-2009)
  • Master Thesis supervision in the Master Migration and Ethnic Studies and Master Social Policy and Social Work in Urban Areas students UvA (2004-2012).