Associate Professor

I am an Associate Professor of Political Science (Comparative Politics) and Director of the Institute for European Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. I am also the co-lead for UBC’s newly established Migration Research Excellence Cluster. My research focuses on the politics of migration and citizenship in liberal democracies. I am particularly interested in the nexus between international migration and the politics of policy making and implementation, coercive state power and resistance, legal precarity, and gender and other identities. My book States Against Migrants: Deportation in Germany and the United States (2009) was published with Cambridge University Press. My work has also appeared in World Politics (winner of the APSA Migration & Citizenship Section’s best article award), Comparative Political Studies, Politics & Society, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, West European Politics, and Government and Opposition. My research has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Social Science Research Council, the German Academic Exchange Service, and the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. I serve on the editorial boards of Politics & Society and the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.

I am currently working on a book manuscript that theorizes the politics of immigration policy making in liberal democracies. The project is based on case studies of key episodes of immigration reform in Switzerland, Germany, Canada, and the United States from the 1950s to the present. I also have under way a project on the ethics of immigrant selection (with Agustín Goenaga, Lund University). This study (winner of the APSA Migration & Citizenship Section’s best paper award) examines the group impacts produced by nominally liberal and non-discriminatory immigration policies and identifies the mechanisms through which these policies produce group biases along the lines of gender, race, class, and disability. A third project examines the impact of recent changes in cessation policy – the loss of refugee status – for permanent residents who arrived in Canada as refugees and are now faced with status precarity.

I was born and raised in Germany before spending many years living, working, and studying in Northern Ireland, England, and the United States. I live in Vancouver with my spouse Alan Jacobs and our delightful ten-year-old daughter. Before becoming a political scientist, I trained in social work and worked as a community worker. I hold Canadian and German citizenship.

Winter 2018

POLI328C Topics in Comparative Politics - COMPARATIVE POLI Sections

Topics will vary from year to year. Consult the departmental website.

Winter 2018

POLI516C Issues in Comparative Politics - COMPAR POLITICS Sections


I am particularly interested in working with graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with a research focus on migration and citizenship. I also welcome supervision of comparative public policy research more broadly, particularly projects with a North American or European focus.


Current Supervisions

Postdoctoral Supervisor

Jonathan Hall, Assistant Professor, University of Uppsala, Swedish Research Council International Postdoctoral Fellow

Kelsey Norman, SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow


PhD Supervisor

Salta Zhumatova: “Civic Integration Policies in Europe”

Sandra Schinnerl (Interdisciplinary Studies): ‘Higher Education Influence on Immigration Policy in Canada” (Co-supervisor)

Camille Desmares: “Naturalization Policies and the Politics of Belonging in France (1945-2011)”


PhD Committee Member

Serban Dragulin (Philosophy): “Science and Political Legitimacy”


MA Supervisor

Isabella Picui


Past Supervisions (and Placement)

PhD Supervisor

Conrad King:  “The Politics of Subsystems: Agenda Management and Policy Change in Education” (2018), Postdoctoral Fellow, UBC

Stewart Prest: “Civil Peace, Political Conflict: Understanding Negative Cases of Civil War” (2015, Co-supervisor).  SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow, Carleton University

PhD Committee Member

Daniel Westlake: “Multiculturalism, Parties, and Voter Behaviour: Explaining the Role of Political Parties in the Development of Multiculturalism Policies” Limited Term Assistant Teaching Professor, University of Victoria

Grace Lore: “Women in Politics: Descriptive and Substantive Representation and the Moderating Effect of Political Institutions”(2016)

Jan Boesten: “Between the Rule of Law and Democratic Security: Judicial, Constituent, and State Power in Columbia” (2015) Postdoctoral Fellow, Oxford University

Agustín Goenaga Orrego: “The Social Origins of State Capacity: Civil Society, Political Order and Public Goods in France (1789-1970) and Mexico (1810-1970)” (2015).  Postdoctoral Fellow, Lund University

Charles Breton: “Incorporation Policies, Identity, and Relationships between Host Societies and Immigrants” (2015).  SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow, Vanderbilt University

Konrad Kalicki: “Acting Like a State: The Politics of Foreign Labour Admission in Japan and Taiwan”(2015).  Assistant Professor, National University of Singapore

Erin Penner: “The Attitudinal Mosaic: Forming Attitudes about Multiculturalism, Immigration, and Ethnic Diversity in Canada” (2013).  Statistical Analyst, Government of Manitoba

John Ferguson (Law): “International Human Trafficking in Canada: Why So Few Prosecutions?” (2012).  Adjunct Professor, Simon Fraser University

Joe Sulmona (Geography): “Trade with Security: How Canada and the Netherlands Relocated State Frontiers Through Civilian Aviation Networks” (2012).  Management Consultant for the Aviation and Transportation Industry

MA Supervisor

Miaofeng Zhang: “The Hukou System and Sociopolitical Stability in China” (2015).  Assistant Editor, Truth and Wisdom Press 格致出版社, Shanghai

Tania Sawicki Mead: “Between Care and Control: The Uses and Abuses of Humanitarianism in Contemporary Migration Debates” (2015). Director, JustSpeak, Wellington, New Zealand

Forrest Barnum: “Crossnational Divergence in Post-OPEC Embargo Energy Policy in Germany and the United States” (2012). Historian, U.S. Department of State

Margery Pazdor (Institute for European Studies): “Female Genital Mutilation in France and the UK: The Role of Non-Governmental Organizations in Policy Formation” (2009).  Articled Student, Klein Lawyers

Lisa Stark: “Do Muslims Make the Difference? Explaining Within Country Variation on Mosque-Building Policies in Western Europe” (2007)


  • 2016. Best Paper Award (with Agustín Goenaga), Organized Section for Migration and Citizenship, American Political Science Association
  • 2014. Best Article Award, Organized Section for Migration and Citizenship, American Political Science Association
  • 2006. Early Career Scholar, UBC Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies

Google Scholar Profile


Ellermann, Antje. 2009. States Against Migrants: Deportation in Germany and the United States. New York: Cambridge University Press

Reviewed in Perspectives on Politics, American Journal of Sociology, Contemporary Sociology, Journal of Politics, Comparative Political Studies, German Studies Review

Featured in “Campaign for the American Reader”

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Ellermann, Antje. (September 2018) “50 Years of Canadian Immigration Policy,” in Peter John Loewen, Carolyn Hughes Tuohy, Andrew Potter, and Sophie Borwein (eds.) (2018), Canada and Its Centennial and Sesquicentennial: Transformative Policy Then and Now, Toronto: University of Toronto Press

Ellermann, Antje. 2015. “Do Policy Legacies Matter? Past and Present Guest Worker Recruitment in Germany.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 41(8), 1235-1253

Ellermann, Antje. 2014. “The Rule of Law and the Right to Stay: The Moral Claims of Undocumented Migrants.” Politics & Society, 42(3), 293-308

Ellermann, Antje. 2013. “When Can Liberal States Avoid Unwanted Immigration? Self-Limited Sovereignty and Guest Worker Recruitment in Switzerland and Germany.” World Politics, 65(3), 491-538

Winner of the APSA Prize for Best Article in Migration and Citizenship Studies published in 2013

Ellermann, Antje. 2012. “Studying Migration Governance from the Bottom-Up.” With Matthew Gravelle and Catherine Dauvergne. In: The Social, Political, and Historical Contours of Deportation. Anderson, Bridget, Matthew Gibney & Emanuela Paoletti (eds.). New York: Springer

Ellermann, Antje. 2010. “Undocumented Migrants and Resistance in the Liberal State.” Politics & Society, 38(3), 408-429

Ellermann, Antje. 2008. “The Limits of Unilateral Migration Control: Deportation and Interstate Cooperation.” Government and Opposition, 43(2), 168-189

Ellermann, Antje. 2006. “Street-level Democracy? How Immigration Bureaucrats Manage Public Opposition.” West European Politics, 29(2), 287-303

Reprinted in Immigration Policy in Europe: The Politics of Control (2007), Virginie Guiraudon and Gallya Lahav (eds.), New York: Routledge, 93-109

Ellermann, Antje. 2005. “Coercive Capacity and the Politics of Implementation: Deportation in Germany and the United States.” Comparative Political Studies, 38(10), 1219-1244

Book Reviews

Review of “The Political Economy of Managed Migration: Nonstate Actors, Europeanization, and the Politics of Designing Migration Policies,” Georg Menz. 2010. Comparative Political Studies, 43, 156-160

Review of “Becoming Multicultural: Immigration and the Politics of Membership in Canada and Germany,” Triadafilos Triadafilopoulos. 2017 Canadian Journal of Political Science, 50(2), 639-641


Ellermann, Antje. “Fairness Lost in Immigration Reform.” The Vancouver Sun, January 24, 2013.

 Work in Progress

The Comparative Politics of Immigration Policy: Policy Choices in United States, Canada, Germany, and Switzerland. Book under contract with Cambridge University Press (to be submitted summer 2019)

“Discrimination and Policies of Immigrant Selection in Liberal States” (Conditional Accept, Politics & Society) (with Agustín Goenaga)

“Discriminations in Migration and Citizenship” (Special Issue, Conditional Accept, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies

“Discriminations in Migration and Citizenship” (Introduction to Special Issue, Conditional Accept) Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies

“Human-capital Citizenship and the Changing Logic of Immigrant Admissions” (Conditional Accept, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies)

“The Impermanence of Permanence: The Rise of Probationary Immigration in Canada” (to be submitted to International Migration) (with Yana Gorokhovskaia)


Download Full CV: Ellermann CV – July 2016

The Comparative Politics of Immigration Policy: Policy Choices in the United States, Canada, Germany, and Switzerland

Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Standard Research Grant #410-2008-00210

Project Summary

The Comparative Politics of Immigration Policy seeks to account for the variety of immigration policies adopted by democratic governments. Why do states that confront comparable immigration challenges oftentimes adopt remarkably different policy solutions? Why does immigration policy change radically at certain points in time, whilst showing striking resilience at others?  Through the comparative study of the United States, Canada, Germany, and Switzerland, the project examines and explains the evolution of immigration policy in these four democracies over the past six decades. By comparing policy choices across countries and, within each country, over time, the study pursues two key objectives. First, the project’s primary purpose is the development of a theoretical framework for the comparative study of the politics of immigration policy making. In a second contribution, the study provides for a more nuanced understanding of the political dynamics that have shaped policy development in these four countries of immigration. Each country case consists of four in-depth policy making case studies ranging from the immediate postwar period to the present, covering policy choices pertaining to temporary foreign workers, permanent economic immigrants, family unification, and immigrant legalization.

The study theorizes both the institutional and ideational drivers of policy preferences and the conditions under which policy makers will be able to translate these preferences into policy. I argue the capacity of policy makers to turn their preferences into policy is contingent on the availability of three types of political insulation. Whereas popular insulation will shield policy makers from public pressure for policy restrictionism, interest group insulation and diplomatic insulation are necessary if policy makers are to enjoy reprieve from demands by domestic lobbies and foreign governments for policy liberalization. Because each type of insulation differs across institutional arenas, immigration policy choices will vary not only across countries but, in contexts where actors can manipulate the institutional locus of policy making, also over time.

Data and Method

For each of the four countries, I have collected data on four major immigration reform initiatives between the 1950s and the present. Given the empirically rich (English, German, and French language) scholarly literature on immigration policy for these countries, I draw on existing data wherever available. To the extent that data gaps remain, I gathered supplementary archival data, in addition to news articles, government reports and other relevant publications. These qualitative data allow me to establish the causal story of immigration reform for each policy episode by means of process-tracing. Process-tracing is widely used for within-case analyses based on qualitative data as it allows for the identification of causal mechanisms that link proposed explanatory variables to a given policy outcome.

The project is currently in the writing stage.

Research Assistants: Matthew Gravelle, Clare McGovern, Aim Sinpeng, Valerie Freeland, Camille Desmares, Graeme Bant, Alberto Alcaraz

Research Output

Book manuscript: The Comparative Politics of Immigration Policy: Policy Choices in United States, Canada, Germany, and Switzerland. The manuscript is under contract with Cambridge University Press. Anticipated submission to the press in 2018.

Ellermann, Antje. 2015. “Do Policy Legacies Matter? Past and Present Guest Worker Recruitment in Germany.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 41(8), 1235-1253

Ellermann, Antje. 2013. “When Can Liberal States Avoid Unwanted Immigration? Self-Limited Sovereignty and Guest Worker Recruitment in Switzerland and Germany.World Politics, 65(3), 491-538.  Winner of the APSA Prize for Best Article in Migration and Citizenship Studies


The Ethics of Immigrant Admission: Race, Gender, Class and Disability in Immigrant-receiving Democracies

Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Insight Grant #435-2013-1065

Project Summary

How do democratic societies select their prospective members? Given the vast pool of would-be immigrants, liberal states have to decide whom to admit, and whom to exclude, from access to their economies and societies. Prominent scholars have argued that, whereas immigrant selection used to be driven by the ascriptive characteristics of race and religion, contemporary admission policies instead are based on the principles of universalism, liberalism, and non-discrimination. Yet, while the use of ascriptive criteria in immigration policy has indeed been largely discredited, once we examine more closely the characteristics of those actually admitted, we find that even in the most liberal of immigration regimes, immigrant selection reflects systematic group biases that run counter to these principles.

This project pursues three related sets of objectives. First, the study seeks to empirically document the prevalence of race, gender, class, and disability biases in immigrant admissions in the Global North. The study will examine the many ways in which admission outcomes depart from the assumption of a universalism that is neutral on matters of social group membership. Second, adopting an intersectional feminist methodology, the study identifies the mechanisms of differentiation through which nominally liberal immigration policies produce illiberal outcomes. The project’s third objective is the development of a normative theory of immigrant admissions that could moderate, if not fully eliminate, discrimination in immigrant admissions.

Data and Method

The study adopts an intersectional feminist methodology that conceives of categories such as ethnicity and gender as central and mutually intersecting elements of social and political life, created and maintained by the dynamic interaction of individual and institutional factors. Public policy cannot be neutral in its impact but, unless self-consciously designed to address existing biases, will replicate social disparities. The project seeks to identify these group biases and their related mechanisms of differentiation through the analysis of statistical data, government documents, and elite interviews.

Research Assistants: Madeleine Page, Camille Desmares, Klaudia Wegschaider, Agustín Goenaga, Salta Zumatova, Alberto Alcaraz


In May 2017, the project funded a two-day international workshop titled Race, Gender, and Class in the Politics of Migration: Empiricist and Normative Approaches, hosted by the Social Science Research Center in Berlin. The workshop brought together an interdisciplinary group of empiricists and political theorists studying the intersection of social group membership with immigration and integration policy. The work resulted in a collection of papers currently under review at the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.

Research Output

Ellermann, Antje and Agustín Goenaga, “Discrimination and Policies of Immigrant Selection in Liberal States” Winner of the APSA Prize for Best Paper in Migration and Citizenship Studies (Revise & Resubmit, Perspectives on Politics)

Discriminations in Migration and Citizenship (special journal issue) (under review at JEMS)

“Human-capital Citizenship and the Changing Logic of Immigrant Admissions” (under review at JEMS)


The Impermanence of Permanence: The Precarious Legal Status of Refugees in Canada 

Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Partnership Development Grant #890-2013-0043

Project Summary

This project examines the cessation of refugee status in Canada in order to investigate shifting meanings of “permanent residence.” Permanent residency has been traditionally understood as a “permanent status,” cementing and securing a former refugee’s place in Canada and altering their previously precarious legal status. Cessation is a procedure to strip refugee status from an individual who is found to no longer be in need of protection. In 2012, the Canadian government enacted changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that allowed for the stripping of permanent residency status as a result of cessation. As a result, applications for cessation of refugee status made by the Canadian government have markedly increased.

This study seeks to examine the implications of these changes for the lived experiences of refugees in Canada, in particular understandings of “permanent residence.”  I argue that cessation policy  has made the category of “refugee” simultaneously less stable yet more permanent. Refugee status, intended as a temporary category of status, effectively becomes instead a quasi-permanent status: it is not permanent, because it can be revoked. But it is not temporary either because as awareness of cessation increases, refugees consider the pursuit of citizenship as too risky. Permanent residency thus has become so fragile that it no longer supersedes refugee status, even where refugees have lived as permanent residents in Canada for many years. Instead, the revocation of their old refugee status deprives them of all the rights associated with permanent settlement.

Data and Method

The study draws on two sources of data. First, the study relies on secondary data sources such as government reports, media accounts, and court records. As a second source of data, we  conducted semi-structured interviews in Vancouver with social and political elites – NGOs, lawyers, and government officials – as well as with immigrants subject to cessation.

Data collection has just been completed for this project.

Research Assistants: Geoffrey Underhill, Stewart Prest, Agustín Goenaga, Tania Sawicki Mead, Yana Gorokhovskaia, Sandra Schinnerl