Micheline van Riemsdijk

Professor at Department of Human Geography

+46 18 471 25 43
Visiting address:
Ekonomikum, Kyrkogårdsgatan 10
Postal address:
Box 513
751 20 UPPSALA

Short presentation

I specialize in the labor market integration of highly skilled migrants. My research has examined the politics of belonging and processes of exclusion, as well as place-making practices of highly skilled migrants and refugees. I have conducted fieldwork research in Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Poland, India and New Zealand. I also study the governance of international migration at the global, regional, national and local scale.


  • belonging
  • forced migration
  • governance
  • international migration
  • qualitative methods
  • skilled migration


Micheline van Riemsdijk is a Professor in Human Geography at Uppsala University. She completed a Ph.D. in Human Geography at the University of Colorado and an M.A. degree in Scandinavian Languages and Literatures at the University of Minnesota. She was an Assistant and Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Tennessee before accepting a position at Uppsala University in 2017. She has been a visiting scholar at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg/ Centre for Global Cooperation Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen, NOVA (Norwegian Social Research), FAFO (Institute for Labor and Social Research) in Oslo, the Center for Migration, Policy and Society at the University of Oxford, and the Centre for Migration Research at the University of Warsaw. Her research has been funded by the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, the US National Science Foundation, the Research Council of Norway, and the Polish government.


Research website

Micheline van Riemsdijk is a Professor of Human Geography at Uppsala University. Her research agenda is broadly defined by migration governance, the experiences of highly skilled migrants, and highly skilled refugees. She is especially interested in the ways in which institutions and actors shape the experiences of highly skilled migrants and refugees, and how migration regulations are formed, contested, and possibly transformed. Van Riemsdijk is lead editor for a special issue on New actors and contested architectures in global migration governance (Third World Quarterly 2021, with Marianne Marchand and Volker Heins), and Labor market integration of highly skilled refugees in Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands (International Migration, with Linn Axelsson). She was a co-editor for a special issue on multi-level governance of migration in times of crisis (Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 2018, with Marion Panizzon), and principal editor of the book Rethinking International Skilled Migration (Routledge 2017, with Qingfang Wang).

I have recently completed these research projects:

Social integration of highly skilled refugees in Sweden (2019-2022, funded by Forte)

The social integration of refugees is an important agenda item in Europe, including Sweden. The recent refugee “crisis” has renewed attention to the need for effective integration initiatives that help create an inclusive, cohesive and prosperous society. Employment is a key factor in the integration process, enabling refugees to participate in the host country’s cultural and social life. This project focuses on highly skilled refugees who possess skills that are in high demand, but who face considerable obstacles in finding employment commensurate with their education and skills. The project studies refugees who participate in “fast-track” programs that provide mentoring, upskilling and work experience. The purpose of the project is to examine the social integration of highly skilled refugees in the workplace, a key site of transmission and negotiation of norms and values of the receiving country. It focuses on the workplace experiences of highly skilled refugees and their employers, and the national and local-level policies and initiatives that govern the integration process. These issues will be investigated using interviews, observations, job shadowing, critical discourse analysis and document analysis. Theoretically, the project adds a refugee perspective to literatures on highly skilled migration and diversity management, and brings a skills lens to scholarship on social integration. The research will produce evidence-based recommendations for creating conditions for sustainable labor force participation, and how to increase the inclusion of under-represented groups in the labor market, focusing on the workplace and the role of employers. The findings will be relevant to employers and policymakers concerned with workplace equality, diversity and inclusion. More information about the project can be found here.

Aging in a Foreign Country

This project studies home-based care provision for elderly immigrants by their relatives in Sweden and its intergenerational implications. We will conduct interviews with elderly immigrants, their caregiving relatives and municipal social services providers to better understand the challenges related to home-based care provision. The one-year project is funded by the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (Forte) and led by Yocie Hierofani.

Working Conditions of Eldercare Workers: A Knowledge Base and Future Research Agenda

This project aims to survey scientific, empirical-based, and state-of-the-art knowledge on working conditions of eldercare workers around the world and to identify future research needs for sustainable working conditions in the face of the current pandemic. A systematic review of articles published in international scientific journals in the social sciences between 2000-2020 will be carried out to achieve this aim. A collaboration with relevant stakeholders and fellow researchers will be conducted to ensure that the results are relevant to current needs. The project is funded by the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (Forte) and led by Yocie Hierofani.

Previous research

I was the lead editor for a special issue on the labor market integration of highly skilled refugees in Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands (co-editor Linn Axelsson). The introduction is available here. Together with Marianne Marchand (Universidad de las Américas Puebla) and Volker Heins (University of Duisburg-Essen) I have edited an issue on New actors and contested architectures in global migration governance, published in Third World Quarterly.

Marion Panizzon (University of Bern) and I served as guest editors for a special issue on multilevel governance in international migration for the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. Free copies are available here.

Together with Qingfang Want I edited a book on Rethinking International Skilled Migration (Routledge 2017). It engages with the following questions: How have international skilled migratory flows been formed, sustained, and transformed over multiple spaces and scales? How have these processes affected cities and regions? And how have multiple stakeholders responded to these processes? The contributors to this book bring together perspectives from economic, social, urban, and population geography in order to address these questions from a myriad of angles. Empirical case studies from different regions illuminate the multiscaled processes of international skilled migration. In particular, the contributions rethink skilled migration theories and provide insights into: the experiences of highly skilled labor migrants and international students; issues related to transnational activities and return migration; and policy implications for both immigrant source and destination countries. It also charts a future research agenda for international skilled migration research.

I previously led a project on the governance of international skilled migration and the involvement of stakeholders in migration policymaking. The project investigated the experiences of foreign-born engineers and information technology specialists in Oslo, Stavanger, and Kongsberg, and the socio-spatial strategies of stakeholders to influence migration policies at local, regional, and national scales. This research was funded by the (United States) National Science Foundation (Award #1155339, 160,000).

I also conducted research on the place-making strategies of foreign-born nurses and IT specialists in Oslo, talent acquisition in IT companies in Bangalore, India, the politics surrounding the European Blue Card, and the transfer of professional qualifications in the European Union. Prospective students are encouraged to contact me at micheline.vanriemsdijk@kultgeog.uu.se


Recent publications

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Micheline van Riemsdijk