Amsterdam Centre for Middle Eastern Studies

Photographer: Karen Natter

Ms K. (Katharina) Natter

  • Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
    Programme group: Political Sociology: Power, Place and Difference
  • Visiting address
    REC BC
    Nieuwe Achtergracht 166  Room number: B6.22
  • Postal address:
    Postbus  15508
    1001 NA  Amsterdam

Katharina Natter holds a Research Master in Comparative Political Science with a minor in Middle East-North African studies from Sciences Po, Paris (2012, honors) and a Bachelor in Political Science with a minor in European studies from Sciences Po, Nancy (2010, honors). Katharina researches the politics of migration in Europe and North Africa, looking at policymaking dynamics, the evolution of migration policies and their effects.

Before joining UvA as a doctoral researcher, Katharina has worked for more than two years at the International Migration Institute (University of Oxford). Earlier in her carreer, she worked on migration issues in her traineeships at the European Commission (Brussels), the International Center for Migration Policy Development (Vienna), the French Institute for International Relations (Paris) and the Bertelsmann Stiftung (Berlin). She also spent one year in Cairo (2009-2010), doing intensive Arabic language classes and working for Daily News Egypt, the regional supplement of the International Herald Tribune.

Since 2017, Katharina is a fellow of the International Migration Institute Network and member of the Board of Trustees of Asylos, an NGO researching country of origin information for lawyers representing asylum seekers in European courts. She speaks fluent German, French, English and intermediate Arabic and Portuguese.

Katharina's doctoral research is part of the 'Migration as Development' (MADE) project led by Professor Hein de Haas and funded by the European Research Council (ERC). This 5-year project (2015-2020) will examine the long-term effects of development in origin and destination societies for internal and international migration patterns and has the theoretical ambition to reconceptualise migration as an intrinsic part of broader social change.


Over the past two decades and especially since the 2011 Arab uprisings, migration across the Mediterranean has gained high socio-political relevance. In that period, Morocco and Tunisia underwent a fundamental transformation: Retaining their role as primary migrant origin regions, they also became countries of transit and destination for African, European and Asian migrants. This shift is reflected in Tunisian and Moroccan migration policies, which increasingly target immigration. However, we know surprisingly little about how Maghreb states deal with migration and what determines the policies they adopt. This is problematic because migration is influenced not only by Western migration policies, but also by the array of migration policies enacted by developing countries. Understanding migration policy-making in the developing world is thus crucial to comprehensively assess the role of states in shaping international migration.

Empirical questions

Katharina's PhD will investigate the processes and dynamics of migration policy-making in Morocco and Tunisia. It will by guided by the following empirical questions: Why did Morocco and Tunisia almost simultaneously criminalize irregular migration in 2003 and 2004 after having turned a blind eye towards the phenomenon over decades? Why did Morocco radically change its policy only a decade later by enacting a regularization programme in 2014 that surprised both domestic and international observers? What was the impact of EU pressure and what role did Morocco’s and Tunisia’s strategic partnerships with African neighboring countries play in these decisions? How was migration framed by political actors, local media outlets and civil society? And did Tunisia’s democratization affect policy processes given the increased public accountability and monitoring of policy-makers?

Theoretical ambition

This research project seeks to shed light on migration policy-making outside the Western world and to contribute to the discussion on the relation between polity, politics, and policies. Indeed, states are no neutral settings for policy-making, and Morocco’s and Tunisia’s hybrid political systems differ from the Western liberal democracies that are the common references for public policy theories. While Morocco’s monarchy consolidated its power and legitimacy over the past decade through limited constitutional reforms, Tunisia experienced a radical break in its political system in 2011, passing from an authoritarian one-party regime to the (ongoing) establishment of democracy. This research will contribute to the emerging literature on policy-making beyond the Western, liberal-democratic polity by examining the impact (or absence thereof) of institutional change on policy processes.

*Please do not hesitate to contact me if you do not have access to some of the subscription-based journal articles and would like to read them.*


Peer reviewed articles

Features and reports

Working papers

  • de Haas, H., Natter, K. and S. Vezzoli (2014) ‘Growing restrictiveness or changing selection? The nature and evolution of migration policies’, IMI Working Paper 96. Oxford: International Migration Institute, University of Oxford. Available at:
  • Natter, K. (2014) ‘Fifty years of Maghreb emigration – How states shaped Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian emigration’, IMI Working Paper 95. Oxford: International Migration Institute, University of Oxford. Available at:
  • de Haas, H., Natter, K. and S. Vezzoli (2014) ‘Compiling and coding migration policies: Insights from the DEMIG POLICY database’, IMI Working Paper 87. Oxford: International Migration Institute, University of Oxford. Available at:

Newspaper articles and blog entries




  • Berriane, M., de Haas, H., & Natter, K. (2016). Revisiting Moroccan Migrations. London: Routledge. [details] 
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