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The Cambridge Migration Research Network

Studying at Cambridge


Ave Lauren



PhD student. Global citizens and local aliens: The Rise of New Migrant Identities and Landscapes in the San Francisco Bay Area

Ave's research addresses the rising socio-economic heterogeneity among new migrant communities and the impact this can have on community-making and identity-formation processes, with particular focus on Chinese professional migrants in San Francisco.


  • PhD candidate in Geography, University of Cambridge, (2012- present)
  • MPhil (Distinction) in Geographical Research, University of Cambridge (2012)
  • MA (Hons) in Geography, University of Cambridge (2011)

Research Interests

My research explores the impact that rising socioeconomic diversity of new Chinese migrants has had on the identity-formation and community-making practices in the San Francisco Bay Area. Both qualitative and quantitative changes in Chinese migration have inevitably lead to shifts in dominant power relationships within the local community. These transformations and their outcomes will be addressed in this study by looking at the ways in which the diversity is managed by the community and mobilised for political ends through social networks to achieve social mobility and to become participating members of the US society. As increasing numbers of people are now migrants at some stages of their lives, there is an urgent need to understand new forms of informal political association and find ways to include new migrants in political processes globally and this is where this research seeks to make its contribution.

This project builds on my MPhil research, which looked at Eastern European communities in London, exploring the impact growing diversity within migrant groups can have on spatial patterns of settlement and community dynamics. A key finding was that new migrants tend to occupy this space of opacity and invisibility in the formal political structure and rely on ethnic social networks for representation and voicing their concerns. I have also conducted research about Estonian post-refugee communities in Toronto, Canada.

Broadly, my research interests include professional migration, political integration, identity politics, global cities, and social networks.

Research Supervision

Dr Mia Gray