Bridging intergroup relations literature in psychology with intersectionality theory that originates in feminist studies, Özge Savaş’ scholarship examines how and when people feel they “belong” in groups, institutions, and nations.
Savaş has two lines of inquiry. In the first line, she examines refugee belonging and deservingness from the perspectives of both the receiving society and the displaced persons. Her research identifies how demographic (i.e., age, gender, ability, race, religion, marital status), symbolic (e.g., attitudes, stereotypes), and institutional (e.g., welfare institutions, humanitarian aid structures) factors foster vulnerability and resilience among refugees as they build new selves, identities and communities after displacement. In her second line of research, she studies how people express and interpret political opinions and ideals through activism, advocacy, and voting. With the aim of contributing to a better understanding of the relationship between multi-layered citizenship and belonging, she adopts a social justice lens, utilizes feminist theories and methods, sociocultural and developmental frameworks, a range of epistemologies from postpositivist to interpretivist, and brings macro, meso and micro levels of analyses together. She taught in the Departments of Psychology and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan; and mentored students from various disciplinary backgrounds. She joins the Bennington faculty in Fall 2020.