Dr Cathrine Thorleifsson

Credit: Renate Torseth




Researcher, Center for Research on Extremism (C-REX), University of Oslo.

Specialist Research Areas:

Nationalism, migration, identity, the anthropology of borders, Israel, Middle East, Europe


Dr. Cathrine Thorleifsson holds a PhD in Anthropology from the London School of Economics and Political Science (2012). Her chief theoretical interests lie in anthropological approaches to the study of nationalism, migration, borders and xenophobia.

Cathrine’s doctoral research was based on two-years fieldwork in the Israeli border town of Kiryat Shemona (2007-2009) amongst Mizrahim (Jews decending from Arab and Muslim lands). She used the dynamics at play along the border to develop wider conclusions about the shifting nature of nationalism and identity categories, and the ways in which they are used and understood in practice.

Cathrine has studied Arabic at the University of Damascus (2005) and at Sana’a University of Science and Technology in Yemen as well as Hebrew at the University of Haifa (2007/2008).

Her postdoctoral project “Nationalist responses to the crisis in Europe: old and new hatreds” examines the rise and character of neo-nationalism in contemporary Europe. Through multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork in Norway, England and Hungary amongst the supporters of populist radical right parties, the project explores how various material conditions, socio-cultural contexts and historical events inform xenophobia and intolerance. Her research also explored the multiple and interconnected ways in which anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim racisms are reconfigured.

As a postdoctoral fellow, Cathrine is affiliated with the ERC-funded research project “Overheating: The Three Crises of Globalisation” led by Thomas Hylland Eriksen and the NFR-funded project “European Strains” led by Karl Ove Moene and Halvor Mehlum at ESOP (the Centre for the study of equality, social organization and performance).

In addition to her academic pursuits, Cathrine has worked for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Syria (2005) and carried out consultancy work for the World Bank, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the European Commission on the impact of Syrian forced displacement on political mobilisation in the Middle East and Europe.



Thorleifsson, Cathrine (2018)  Nationalist responses to the crisis in Europe: old and new hatreds. Research in Migration and Ethnic Relations Series. London: Routledge.

Thorleifsson, Cathrine Moe (2015) Nationalism and the Politics of Fear in Israel : Race and Identity on the border with Lebanon. I.B. Tauris, London/ New York. ISBN 9781780767505.

Book chapters

Thorleifsson, Cathrine & Eriksen, Thomas Hylland (2018). Human waste in the land of abundance: Two kinds of Gypsy indeterminacy in Norway. Edited by Andrew Sanchez and Catherine Alexander. Berghan Books.

Thorleifsson, Cathrine (2016) Guarding the Frontier: On Nationalism and Nostalgia in an Israeli Border town. In Identity Destabilised: Living in an overheated world. Edited by Thomas Hylland Eriksen and Elisabeth Schober. London: Pluto Press.

Peer-reviewed journal articles

Thorleifsson, Cathrine (2017) Disposable Strangers: far right securitisation of forced migration in Hungary. Social Anthropology. Volume 25 (3): 318-334. London: Wiley-Blackwell. ISSN: 0964-0282.

Thorleifsson, Cathrine (2017) Peripheral Nationhood: Negotiating Israeliness from the margins of the state. In Inhabiting the margins: Middle Eastern minorities revisited. Edited by Güldem Baykal Büyüksaraç & Jonathan Glasser, in Anthropological Quarterly, Vol.90, No. 1, p.                  83–106, ISSN 0003-5491.

Thorleifsson, Cathrine (2016) From Coal to UKIP: The struggle over identity in postindustrial Doncaster. History and Anthropology. 27:(5):555-568. London: Routledge. ISSN 1477-2612.

Non-refereed Journal articles

T horleifsson, Cathrine (2016) The Rise of UKIP: Rebordering the nation in an age of migration. British Politics Review, 11(4):5-7.

Popular articles

Thorleifsson, Cathrine (2018) Orban wins with radical right playbook. <http://www.sv.uio.no/c-rex/english/news-and-events/right-now/orban-wins.html>  Right Now, 10 april

Thorleifsson, Cathrine (2015) “Do you agree?” Orbán’s dangerous waltz with the radical right. <http://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/cathrine-thorleifsson/do-you-agree-orb-n-s-dangerous-waltz-with-radical-right>  Open Democracy, 26 October

Book Reviews

Thorleifsson, Cathrine (2018) Review of Lions of the North: sounds of the new Nordic radical nationalism, by Jonathan Teitelbaum, Nations and Nationalism. Volume 24, Issue 2.