Dr Zeynep Sahin Mencutek

Associate Senior Fellow

Related event

Authors Workshop 'Governing Refugee Returns in the International System'

Related publication

It's Ordered Chaos: What Really Makes Polycentrism Work

Current affiliation

Bonn International Centre for Conflict Studies (BICC),Senior Researcher




Dr Zeynep Sahin Mencutek joined the research group 'Global Cooperation and Polycentric Governance' as a Senior Research Fellow from March 2019 to February 2020. She stays affiliated with the Centre as Associate Senior Fellow.


Research Project at the Centre

The Governance of Refugee Returns

Return migration is a quite dynamic and complex phenomenon driven by contested concepts, approaches and controversial practices. The issues related to the returns in the cases of mass forced migration have received less attention, although return is proposed as one of the durable solutions for refugee protection. Many host countries of refugees in the Global South are often impatient to see returns, while the Global North seeks ways in which to cooperate with third countries for returns and readmission.  However, the governance of refugees` returns to their country of origin is rarely looked at from a comprehensive institutional perspective. 

With an empirical focus on countries hosting Syrian refugees since 2012, the project aims to examine issues related to refugee returns from a governance perspective. It will investigate discourses, policies and governing practices. It will examine interplay of multiple actors such as public, private, civil society actors operating at both in the host and home countries. Particularly, the interactions between host states, EU and transnational migration agencies, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and International Organization of Migration will be explored to understand the forms of global cooperation, coordination, contestation and responsibility sharing/shifting. Drawing from the institutional approaches to polycentric governance, the study will argue that the governance of refugee returns has become more complex, fragmented, multilevel by the strategic policies, arrangements, and implementations that have drastic impact on the lives of refugees. The project will further put an emphasis on the agency of refugees by elaborating the dynamics shaping their return aspirations, their ongoing political actions, their concerns about peace processes, resolving displacement and post-conflict stages in Syria.

Research Interests

  • International Relations
  • Middle East Politics
  • Migration and Refugee Governance
  • Diaspora-State Relations
  • Gender and Politics

Current Projects


12/2017 – 12/2020

Swedish Research Institute, Istanbul, Turkey

Senior Research Fellow for RESPOND: Multilevel Governance of Mass Migration in Europe and Beyond Project- Horizon2020


Associate Professor status in the International Relations Discipline granted by Turkish Higher Education Council

09/2016 – 02/2019

Käte Hamburger Kolleg/Centre for Global Cooperation Research

Associate Fellow

08/2011 – 07/2016

Gediz University, Izmir, Turkey

Department of International Relations

Assistant Professor of International Relations


Migration Research Center, Izmir, Turkey


08/2005 – 12/2011

University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA

Ph.D. Student

Seminars and Conferences

  • April 2019. “Return aspirations of Syrian refugees in Turkey” Sociological Colloquium. University of Duisburg Essen, Germany
  • March 2019. “Refugee Governance in the Middle East: Challenging the Explanatory Power of Multilevel Governance” (with Soner Ö.Barthoma), The International Politics of Middle East Migration – Problems, Policy, Practice, University of Birmingham, U.K.
  • December 2018. “Conducting Comparative Migration Research in the MENA: Are Regional countries too unique or highly similar for comparisons of refugee policies?” İstanbul Şehir Üniversitesi, International Workshop Series on Migration: Mixed Migration Flows and The Changing Dynamics of Migration Research, İstanbul, Turkey
  • October 2018. “Insights about Syrian Refugees’ Return: the Case of Şanlıurfa Turkey” Migration, Social Transformation and Differential Inclusion in Turkey. İstanbul, Turkey
  • May 2017. “Economic Wellbeing of Syrian Refugees in Jordan”, (with Ayat J. Nashwan), Koç University, Asian Center, Istanbul Turkey

Selected Publications

Mencutek, Zeynep Sahin (2019).Refugee Governance, State, and Politics in the Middle East, London: Routledge, Global Cooperation Series .

Mencutek, Zeynep Sahin, Gökalp Aras, Ela (2018). “Evaluation of irregular migration governance in Turkey from a foreign policy perspective” New Perspectives on Turkey, November 2018, Vol. 59: 63-88.

Mencutek, Zeynep Sahin and Baser, Bahar (2017). “State Diaspora Policy as a Supplement of Foreign Policy: Insights from Turkey” Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, 2017, 20(1): 86-105 .

Mencutek, Zeynep Sahin, Çetin, Elif; Övünç Öztürk, Neva; Gökalp Aras, N.Ela (2018). Turkey Country Report. Legal and Policy Framework of Migration Governance. Horizon2020 RESPOND Working Paper Series. www.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf .

Mencutek , Zeynep Sahin (2017): “From Inaction to Restrictions: Changes in Lebanon’s Policy Responses to Syrian Mass Refugee Movement”, Working Paper, Kate Hamburger Kolleg, Centre for Global Cooperation Research.2017.

Mencutek, Zeynep Sahin (forthcoming in 2019): Refugee Politics of Organization of Islamic Conference, in: T. Kayaoglu and M. J. Petersen (eds.), The Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Human Rights: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, University of Pennsylvania Press.

Mencutek , Zeynep Sahin, and Erdogan, Murat (2016): Implementation of Voting from Abroad: Evidences from the 2014 Turkish Presidential Election, Journal of International Migration 54 (3): 173–86.

Mencutek, Zeynep Sahin, and Aras, Ela Gökalp (2016): From Assertive to Opportunist Usage of Mass Migration for Foreign and Asylum Policy: Turkey’s Respond for The Refugees from Syria, in: I. Sirkeci and B. Push (eds.), Turkish Migration Policy, Transnational Press London.

Mencutek, Zeynep Sahin, and Aras, Ela Gökalp (2016): Externalization of the EU’s Policy on Irregular Migration: the Case of Turkey, in: A. Freyberg-Inan et al. (eds.), Growing Together, Growing Apart: Turkey and the European Union Today, Nomos, 115–43.

Mencutek, Zeynep Sahin (2016): Governance of Refugee Protection in the Middle East and North Africa by Arab League, in: A. Tutumlu and G. Güngör (eds.), Multilateralism and Political Economy, Peter Lang Publication, 169–95.

Mencutek, Zeynep Sahin (2016): Strong in the Movement, Strong in the Party: Kurdish Women’s Representation in Political Parties of Turkey, Political Studies 64 (2): 470–87.

Mencutek, Zeynep Sahin, and Aras, Ela Gökalp (2015): International Migration and Foreign Policy Nexus: the Case of Syrian Refugees in Turkey, Migration Letters 12 (3): 193–208.

Mencutek, Zeynep Sahin (2015): External Voting: Mapping Motivations of Emigrants and Concerns of Host Countries, Insight Turkey 17 (4): 145–71.

Mencutek, Zeynep Sahin, and Tatari, Eren (2015): Strategic Intersectionality and Political Representation: Female Muslim Councilors in London, Journal of Women, Politics & Polic 36 (4), 415–39.

Mencutek, Zeynep Sahin (2015): Impact of Syrian Crisis on Jordanian Foreign Policy: Syrian Refugees and Participation into the Anti-ISIS Coalition, Middle Eastern Studies 7 (1): 82–109 [in Turkish].

Mencutek, Zeynep Sahin, Durmuş, Ayşegül, and Polat, Ferihan (2015): Understanding of 'Arab Spring' from the Perspective of Immanuel Wallerstein as a Revolutionary Situation, Pamukkale Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Dergisi, Fall 2015 [in Turkish].

Mencutek, Zeynep Sahin (2015): The Impact of Syrian Refugee Crisis in Lebanon, Project on Middle East and Arap Spring, The Project on the Middle East and Arab Spring-POMEAS BRIEF, No.10, June 2015 (Policy Brief).

Mencutek, Zeynep Sahin (2015): The Gender Politics of Conservative Justice and Development Party of Turkey, in: S. Childs and K. Celis (eds.) Gender, Conservatism and Political Representation, ECPR Press, 83–103.

Mencutek, Zeynep Sahin (2014): The 'Rebirth' of a Dead Organization?: Questioning the role of the Arab League in the 'Arab Uprisings' Process, Perceptions: Journal of International Relations XIX (2): 83–113.

Mencutek, Zeynep Sahin ( 2012): Immigration Control in the Transit States: The Case of Turkey, European Journal of Economic and Political Studies 5 (1): 137–63.

Mencutek, Zeynep Sahin (2010): Migration, Nationalism and Ethnicity in the Middle East, in: R. A. Denemark (ed.), The International Studies Encyclopedia, Vol. III, Wiley-Blackwell (Review Article).