I am currently a senior researcher at the Department for Migration and Globalisation at Danube University Krems , where my research focuses on migration aspirations and drivers in (forced) migration, migration governance, and diaspora politics with a geographical focus on the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. Previously, I was a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Middle East Studies at the German German Institute of Global and Area Studies, a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Research Fellow at the Department of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam and a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford.

I am enthusiastic about independent, collaborative, participatory, and theory-driven migration research making contributions to Political Science and Migration Studies. Methodologically, I apply different approaches including in-depth and life history interviews, survey research, mixed methods, content analysis, online ethnography and other virtual methods.

I earned a joint PhD in Comparative Politics and Arabic Studies (summa cum laude) from the Centre des Recherches Internationales (CERI) at Sciences Po Paris and the Department for Near Eastern Studies at Vienna University in 2016. My dissertation, entitled “Transnational Politics Beyond the Arab Uprisings. Egyptian Activism in Vienna and Paris” and supervised by Catherine Wihtol de Wenden and Stephan Procházka, focused on Egyptian migrant activism in Paris and Vienna during and after the Arab Uprisings and received the Award of Excellence 2016 from the Austrian Ministry of Science, Research & Economy. My Marie Curie project SYRMAGINE (2017-2019) analysed the ways in which Syrian refugees undertake and experience (im)mobility and why. It focussed on migration decision-making processes of Syrian refugees settling in two of Syria’s neighbouring countries (Turkey and Lebanon) and examined how their imaginations of Europe affect their attitudes to seek asylum in European countries. As part of the Horizon2020 project MAGYC and its work package ‘Comparing Crisis’, I studied  (forced) migration governance and dynamics of South–South migration flows in North Africa, the Middle East and the Horn of Africa and the construction of crises discourse. My current Elise Richter project SYREALITY (2022-2026) focuses on drivers of (im)mobility and migration decision-making processes of Syrian refugees in Europe. It investigates how broader life aspirations influence refugees’ migration decisions; which influence war and displacement have on life aspirations and social class; and how forced migrants’ legal status and the context of reception in four different European cities impact their life aspirations and well-being.

Teaching has been an important component of my academic profile since the beginning of my career. My teaching experience ranges from introductory classes in Near Eastern and Arabic Studies, research methods in the humanities and social science to specialised classes in (forced) migration at both, the undergraduate and master level. I have (co-)supervised MA theses in both, German and English, and I am open to act as external supervisor to theses related to my research interests. In addition, my own past and current projects have included teaching-related elements by including students as research assistants and training them in data collection, analysis and writing. 

Before my PhD, I was a trainee at the Department of the European Council and the Council of the European Union at the Austrian Foreign Ministry (2010-2011). I attended Vienna University (BA in Political Science, 2009; Magister in Arabic and Islamic Studies, 2010), the Institut National des Langues et Cultures Orientales in Paris (2007/2008), and Sciences Po Paris (MA in Comparative Politics / Middle East and Muslim World, 2010). I have held research affiliations to the Institut français du Proche-Orient Beirut (2018), the Migration Reseach Center at Koç University (2018), Nuffield College (2017), the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo (2012) and the American University Beirut (2009). I have also followed Arabic language training in Damascus (Modern Standard Arabic, Syrian Colloquial Arabic), Tunis (Modern Standard Arabic), Cairo (Egyptian Colloquial Arabic) and Tripoli (Syro-Lebanese Colloquial Arabic).

To find out more about my research, you can take a look at the website or email me at lea.mueller-funk@donau-uni.ac.at  or follow me on Twitter: