Catherine Dauvergne

Current affiliation:
University of British Columbia

One of Canada’s foremost authorities on refugee and immigration law, Professor Dauvergne is committed to transforming how Canada and other countries deal with refugees in a perspective of global justice.

How would you define yourself?

I am a legal scholar who works in the areas of immigration and refugee law and legal theory.  I work as both a big-picture thinker and a skilled advocate.

What is the public purpose of your work? How does/will it impact the lives of Canadians?

Much of my work is directly concerned with immigration and refugee law and policy in Canada and around the world.  I also do pro-bono work on behalf of individuals and organizations in the refugee law area.  This is a time of tremendous change for migration regulation globally.  My work contributes to deepening our understanding of those changes, and to examining migration questions from a perspective of global justice. It touches the lives of Canadians both by contributing to policy discourses and by supporting individuals.

Briefly explain one of the most interesting discoveries you have made so far.

This question is really hard, because I do not work in an area that yields discovery.  Perhaps it is fair to say most of my work has its origin in the realization that theories of justice are incapable of answering liberal societies’ fundamental questions about immigration.

How will the Trudeau Fellowship help you pursue your work?

The Trudeau Fellowship will help me write a new book about the current state of global migration regulation, tentatively called The End of Settler Societies and the New Politics of Immigration.  The Fellowship will also introduce my ideas to a wider range of publics and policy-makers.



Catherine Dauvergne works in the area of immigration and refugee law in Canada and around the world.  Her research is grounded in a belief that how we define and police the boundaries of our societies determines the terrain of our political engagements and says much about our national identity.  Border laws are a space of unabashed discrimination, where aspirations of nationhood are writ large.

Dauvergne is both a tactical lawyer and a big picture thinker, and her work shows a commitment to engagement at these scales.  Her 2008 book Making People Illegal: What Globalization Means for Migration and Law (Cambridge University Press) is read and taught across disciplines and has been reprinted three times.  Dauvergne has co-directed a number of large empirical studies of refugee decision-making around the world and has published three other books and more than fifty articles, chapters, and law review pieces.  She is regularly involved in pro-bono legal work for individuals and for refugee- and immigrant-serving organizations.  She is also a frequent commentator on these issues for Canadian media.  Dauvergne is currently completing a research project investigating the failure of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms to protect non-citizens.

Catherine Dauvergne grew up in Edmonton.  She studied law at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and clerked for Chief Justice Antonio Lamer.  Dauvergne completed her PhD at the Australian National University and was a member of the Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney for four years before returning to Canada.  From 2002 to 2012, Dauvergne held the Canada Research Chair in Migration Law at UBC.  Both as a student and as a scholar, Dauvergne has had an intellectual home at UBC’s Centre for Feminist Legal Studies.