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Galya Ben-Arieh

Emeritus Professor of Instruction

B.A.: University of Pennsylvania, 1986; J.D.: Northwestern University, 1989; Ph.D.: University of Pennsylvania, 2003
Curriculum Vitae


Research Interest(s): Forced Migration and Refugee Studies, Citizenship, Comparative Constitutionalism, Testimony and International Criminal Justice; Conflict Studies

Program Area(s): Political Theory; Law and Politics; Comparative Politics

Regional Specialization(s): United States; Middle East; Europe; Africa

Subfield Specialties: Law and Politics


Galya Ben-Arieh, J.D., Ph.D., is an emeritus professor of instruction in the Political Science Department at Northwestern University. An international expert in refugee and forced migration studies, she has worked for over 20 years bringing her expertise as an academic and lawyer to broaden our understandings of the rights and processes of refugee protection and the role of law in settlement and inclusion in host societiesNorthwestern University School of Law graduate (’89), she worked as an associate in the Washington, D.C. offices of Pepper, Hamilton and Scheetz before returning to her undergraduate alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania (B.A honors ’86), to complete a doctorate in Political Science (2003) specializing in comparative constitutionalism, American government and immigration policy. Since coming to Northwestern in 2006 she has directed the International Studies Program (2008-2015), creating the IS Honors Program and the Global Café, founded and directed the Center for Forced Migration Studies (2011-2018) and now directs the Colloquium on Refugees, Migrants and Statelessness in the WCAS Center for International and Area Studies. She has brought her interdisciplinary training into her scholarship, teaching and professional work as a community leader and advocate. In 2018 she founded COMPASS – Community Partnerships for Settlement Strategies, a public charity registered in Illinois that works to design effective approaches in support of the long-term wellbeing of refugees and asylees in our communities.  

She has been awarded grants from the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council and the Kellogg Center for Dispute Resolution and is a former Senior Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research (University of Duisburg-Essen) and is a consortium partner in the project, Norms and Values in the European Migration and Refugee Crisis (NoVaMigra), a European Union Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 770330. She has conducted field research in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa, Germany and the U.S. and has published on testimony and justice, asylum law and policy, refugee protection in a digital age, human rights litigation in transnational courts and citizenship and immigrant incorporation in the US and Germany and is the co-editor of Adjudicating Refugee and Asylum Status: The Role of Witness, Expertise, and Testimony (co-edited with Benjamin Lawrance), Cambridge University Press (2015). From 2013-2018 she served on the executive committee of the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration and has worked as an immigration attorney representing political asylum claimants both as a solo-practitioner and as a pro-bono attorney. 

BooksBook Cover: Adjudicating Refugee and Asylum Status by Gayla Ruffer

  • Adjudicating Refugee and Asylum Status: The Role of Witness, Expertise, and Testimony (co-edited with Benjamin Lawrance), Cambridge University Press (2014)

Select Publications

  • "Criminalisation of Kindness: Narratives of Legality in the European Politics of Migration Containment" with Volker M. Heins, Third World Quarterly, 2020.
  • “Persecution, Prosecution, Protection: Doing International Justice for Sexual Violence,” in Nergis Canefe, ed. Transitional Justice and Forced Migration: Critical Perspectives from the Global South (Cambridge University Press, Oct. 2019).
  • “Saharan Crossing: The Realities of Migration Today,” in Kathleen Bickford Berzock, ed. Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Exchange across Medieval Saharan Africa (Princeton University Press, Feb. 2019).
  • “Informational components of refugee status determination,” in Carleen Maitland, ed. Digital Lifeline? ICTs for Refugees and Displaced Persons (MIT Press Information Policy, 2018).
  • “Is the U.S. Gaming Refugee Status for Central Americans? A Study of the Screening and Refugee Status Determination Process for Central American Women and Children Detained in Artesia, New Mexico,” in Idil Atak and James Simeon, Advancing Protection and Fostering Belonging in an Era of the Criminalization of Migration (McGill-Queens University Press, 2018).
  • Why Forced Migration Studies: The New Generation of Scholarship,” Symposium: The Refugee in Political Science, Migration and Citizenship Newsletter of the American Political Science Association, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Summer 2016).
  • “Testimony of Sexual Violence in the DR Congo and the Injustice of Rape: Moral Outrage, Epistemic Injustice and the Failures of Bearing Witness,” Oregon Review of International Law (Spring 2014).
  • “Legal Forms and Democratic Citizens in Republican Theory,” in Andreas Niederberger and Philipp Schink, eds. Republican Democracy: Liberty, Law and Politics (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013).
  • “Pushed Beyond Recognition? The Liberality of Family Reunification Policies in the EU,” Journal of Ethnic Migration Studies (July 2011).
  • “The Cosmopolitics of Asylum Seekers in the European Union,” New Political Science, 27:3 (September 2005).
  • “Courts Across Borders: The Implications of Judicial Agency for Human Rights and Democracy,” (with David Jacobson), Human Rights Quarterly, 25:1 (February 2003). Reprinted in:
    • “Agency on a Global Scale: Rule, Rights and the European Union,” (with David Jacobson), in Alison Brysk and Gershon Shafir, eds. Citizenship and Human Rights in an Age of Globalization (University of Rutgers Press, 2004).
    • “Agency on a Global Scale: Rule, Rights and the European Union,” (with David Jacobson) in Marco Giugni and Florence Passy, eds. Dialogues on Migration Policy (Lexington: Lanham, MD, March 2006). 

Courses taught

  • POLI_SCI 395 Action Research in Refugee Studies
  • LEGAL_ST/POLI_SCI 330 U.S. Refugee Policy and Localities for listing in Distribution Area III (Social and Behavioral Sciences)
  • LEGAL_ST/POLI_SCI 356 Constitutional Challenges in Comparative Perspective for listing in Area III (Social and Behavioral Sciences)
  • POLI SCI 380/INT_ST 390 Refugee Crises & Human Rights
  • LEGAL_ST/POLI_SCI 332 Constitutional Law I