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Prof. Dr. Susan Thieme

Prof. Thieme

Universität Bern

Geographisches Institut

Unit Geographie und nachhaltige Entwicklung



  • 2014: Unternehmensgründung und –führung, venturelab.ch, ETH and University of Zurich
  • 2012: Habilitation and Venia Legendi, University of Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2005: PhD in Human Geography, University of Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2000: M. Sc. in Human Geography, Sociology and Political Science, University of Potsdam, Germany (incl. Erasmus Semester University of Plymouth, UK)


  • From 2015 Professorship, Freie Universität Berlin, Anthropogeography, Working Group Globalisation, Transformation, Gender
  • 2008 – 2014 Research group leader ‘Im/mobilities and Migration’ and senior lecturer, Geography, University of Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2005 – 2008 Post-doc, Humangeography, University of Zurich
    • 2001 – 2005 Research and teaching assistant in Human Geography, University of Zurich
    • 2003 Consultant for International Labour Office (ILO) Geneva (part-time)
  • 2000 - 2001 German Development Cooperation (GIZ) Germany and Bangladesh
  • 1999 Penang Heritage Trust, Penang, Malaysia (ASA Scholarship Carl Duisberg Society)

Visiting Fellowships

  • 2011 American University Central Asia (AUCA) | Bishkek | Kyrgyzstan
  • 2010 Institute of Social Studies (ISS) | De Hague | NL
  • 2006/07 University of Sussex Centre for Migration Research | UK

Areas of specialisation

  • im/mobility, migration, labour, education 
  • development, transformation
  • social differences, inequality
  • social theory
  • Specific country experience: Nepal, India, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Switzerland

Science@Practice : Implementation, Policy Dialogue, Consultancy

  • 2011-2014: Policy advice for Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) & HELVETAS
  • 2008: Documentary "the other silk road" (with Panos South Asia) download here:
  • 2003-05: Empowerment of Nepali labour migrants in India (with South Asia Study Center, Delhi)
  • 2003: Consultancy for International Labour Organisation (ILO), Geneva, Switzerland


  • Swiss research network "Passagen" - Crossings: Researching the Intersections of Migration and Gender, http://www.passagen.ch (Vice-president until 2014)
  • Executive Committee of the Commision for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries KFPE (2010-2014) http://www.kfpe.ch

Current research projects

  • Since 2013: Unemployment as crisis – youth in crisis? Insights from recent labour migration from southern Europe to Switzerland” (with Sara Landolt, University of Zurich) http://www.research-projects.uzh.ch/p18676.htm
  • Since 2014: Internationalisation of Higher Education: Educational Consultants in Nepal. (self-financed)
  • 2013-2014: Alumni Study: Tracking former scholars from developing and transition countries at ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich” (with Emma Lindberg ETH Zurich), http://www.research-projects.uzh.ch/p18606.htm

Completed research projects

  • 2010-2012: Analysis, Visualization and contextualisation of quantitative migration data of different scale. with giCentre, City University London; Geocomputation, University of Zurich, http://www.research-projects.uzh.ch/p16106.htm
  • 2007-2008: “the other silk road”, documentary, Panos South Asia and NCCR North-South
  • 2006-2010: Sustaining livelihoods in multi-local settings in South and Central Asia. With Panos South Asia. http://www.research-projects.uzh.ch/p7542.htm
  • 2003-2005: Two projects addressing migrant’s needs in Delhi, India in collaboration with the NGO South Asia Study Center (SASC), SNSF&SDC, NCCR North-South

    Social Networks and Migration: Nepal – India labour migration (2001-205), http://www.lit-verlag.de/isbn/3-8258-9246-8

Main Supervisor of PhD research:


Ongoing at the University of Zurich

Samuel Graf (since 2012): Transnationally tied: Social, economic and political linkages of the Eritrean diaspora in Switzerland and how they can influence change in their home country, University of Zurich. http://www.geo.uzh.ch/de/lehrstuehle-und-abteilungen/humangeographie/ueber-uns/staff/samuel-graf


Pörtner, Ephraim (since 2011): Encountering asylum-seekers: Politics of mobility at the margins of the State. University of Zurich. Homepage: http://www.geo.uzh.ch/de/lehrstuehle-und-abteilungen/humangeographie/ueber-uns/staff/ephraim-poertner




Hatcher, Craig (2010 - 2014): Law, Space and the City: A legal geography of urban change in post-socialist Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. University of Zurich.

Samanchina, Jarkyn (2010-2014): The influence of educational migration on the development of inter-state relations between Kyrgyzstan and Turkey. Bishkek Humanitarian University, Kyrgyzstan. (In collaboration with Prof. A. Elebaeva, Academy of Science, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan)


Journal articles

(If you are interested in an article and do not have access to the journal, please feel free to contact me)

  • Hatcher, C. and Thieme, S. 'Institutional transition: Internal migration, the propiska, and post-socialist urban change in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan‘. Urban Studies. Online First. http://usj.sagepub.com/content/early/recent
  • Thieme, S.(2014): Multilokales Erwerbs- und Familienleben im postsozialistischen Kirgistan. Geographische Rundschau 64 (11): 40-45. 




  • the other silk road (2008), 28 min
  • Documentary labour migration in Kyrgyzstan. National Centre of Competence in Research North-South and Panos South Asia production. Research: Susan Thieme, Script: Susan Thieme and Xonzoi Barbora. Film: Kazu Ahmed, Ushma Bardoloi, Sushmita Kashyap. 
  • Downloadhere: http://www.north-south.unibe.ch/content.php/page/id/243

Working Papers and Reports

Policy Briefings

  • Thieme, S.; Bhattarai, A. and Gurung, G. (2014): Making Migration Safer. Research Evidence for Policy. NCCR North-South, Berne.
  • Thieme, S.; Elebaeva, A.; Bruce Z.; Samanchina, J. (2013): Studying Abroad: Encouraging Students to Return to Kyrgyzstan. Evidence for Policy No. 5, NCCR North-South: Kyrgyzstan.
  • Thieme, S. (2009): Where to return to? Rural Urban Interlinkages in Times of Internal and International Migration. In: Social Research Center, American University Central Asia (AUCA) (Ed.): Policy Briefs on Civil Society. Migration, Islam, and Corruption. AUCA, Bishkek: 108-113.

Book sections


BLOG, Newsletter

  • Landolt, S. and Thieme, S. (2014): Feministische Geo-Rundmail.
  • Thieme, S. (2013, May): Bans Will Not Stop Women from Migrating. Central Eurasian Scholar Media Initiative (CESMI), http://cesmi.info/wp/?m=201305, “my take on …”.
  • Thieme, S. (2013): Banning Women from Migrating. Geographies of Care. Feministische Geo-Rundmail. No. 56.