The most recent Ockenden International Joyce Pearce Junior Research Fellow (JRF) is sociologist Dr. Dilar Dirik.

Approved photograph of 2019 JRF Dr. Dilar Dirik
Junior Research Fellow, Dr. Dilar Dirik

Dilar, who gained her PhD at the Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge, also holds a BA in History and Political Science, as well as a MA in International Studies.

She is a refugee herself. Due to the conflict in Turkey, she had to flee the country with her family as a child and grew up in Germany. Her research so far has focused on women’s struggles in Kurdistan and grassroots democracy projects in the region. 

She is an activist of the Kurdish women’s movement and writes on the Kurdish freedom struggle for an international audience.

Dilar’s JRF research focused on two very timely issues around displacement in the Middle East.

“The first project” she says, “considers layers of statelessness and self-determination by focusing on autonomously-run refugee camps in the majority Kurdish regions of Iraq and Syria and the different ways in which they relate to local self-declared self-governing institutions.

“I’ll be asking what can we learn about democracy beyond the nation-state by looking at alternative practices of self-determination that challenge dominant international structures,” she said as she began her three-year term, which because of interruptions imposed by the Covid-19 epidemic, was extended by 12 months.

“Secondly, building on my past work on the Kurdish women’s struggle, I am interested in women’s quests for justice in the aftermath of the violence inflicted by the so-called Islamic State group. In general, I am interested in investigating the intersections between state/statelessness, knowledge, and power.

“My research agenda aims to broaden our understanding of refugee-hood in favour of concrete, just and practical solutions that centre the self-determination of the dispossessed,” she added.

War Starts At Home‘, an essay by Dilar, was published in LMH News Issue 6, 2023.

Launched in January 2012, the JRF is hosted by Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford.

The first recipient of the fellowship was Dr. Kirsten McConnachie whose term ended in July-August 2015. The second, held by Dr. Georgia Cole, began on 1 October 2015 and ended in July-August 2018.

Ockenden International funds the Joyce Pearce Junior Research Fellowship in conjunction with the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford.

The fellowship is named in honour of the late Joyce Pearce OBE, a student at LMH in the 1930s and a dedicated supporter of the Refugee Studies Centre in its early days. Ms. Pearce was also a founder of the Ockenden Venture (now Ockenden International), a charitable organisation promoting self-reliance for refugees and displaced people across the globe.