Professor Listing


Sandra Bucerius, PhD 2009

Associate Professor



About Me

I received my PhD from the University of Frankfurt/Germany in 2009. 

As an urban ethnographer, I am interested in investigating issues pertaining to prisons; immigration, integration, and crime; resilience and risk to radicalization and terrorism; neighbourhood re-development and its consequences on criminal networks and crime; questions of identity; and the efficacy of different types of community outreach in the context of counter-terrorism and crime prevention. All of my work is attuned to how micro-level interactions are influenced, shaped, and often hindered by macro-level forces. In addition to contributing to scholarly debates, I am also driven by my desire to inform effective, legally responsible, and socially engaged crime-prevention and counter-terrorism policies and programs.

Together with my colleague Dr. Kevin Haggerty, I am currently leading the largest qualitative research study on provincial prisons in Canada. Having spoken to over 600 prisoners and 100 correctional officers, we (and our team of five fantastic research assistants) are looking at issues pertaining to security threat groups (gangs and radical groups) and other aspects.  

My monograph "Unwanted - Muslim Immigrants, Dignity, and Drug Dealing", published by Oxford University Press in 2014 is based on five years of ethnographic research on second-generation, male, Muslim immigrants who specialized in drug trafficking in Frankfurt/Germany. It has received numerous reviews in key academic journals.

My second book, edited with Dr. Michael Tonry, is the Oxford Handbook on Ethnicity, Crime and Immigration, published with Oxford University Press in 2014.

I serve on the Editorial Advisory Board of Criminology - the discipline's flagship journalI am also an executive member of the Canadian Research Network on Terrorism, Security and Society (TSAS) and part of its SSHRC partnership grant. I am also an active member of the American Society of Criminology and am currently serving on the Hindelang Book Award committee. 

I won the Martha Cook Piper Research Award in 2016, which recognizes two faculty members across the university in the early stage of their careers that enjoy a reputation for original research and show outstanding promise as researchers. I also won the Faculty of Arts Research Award on the Assistant Professor Level in 2016. My ethnography on drug dealers has won the 2nd place in the Deutscher Studienpreis Koerberstiftung competition in 2009 - the highest national award for social sciences dissertations in Germany. An article based on this research "What else should I do?" published in the Journal of Drug Issues in 2007, was awarded the Honory Mention of the Migration Section of the American Sociological Association (


I am currently involved in several projects:

My UofA colleague Dr. Kevin Haggerty and I are currently heading the largest qualitative study on Canadian prisons in the history of Canadian criminology. Together with our research assistants, we are examining the lived realities of prisoners and correctional officers. We are particularly interested in security threat groups, such as radical groups and gangs. To date, we have conducted over 600 interviews with prisoners, as well as with over 150 correctional officers and staff. The project is funded by SSHRC, Killam and TSAS. Several of our graduate students are writing their MA and PhD theses on our prison data.

Together with Dr. Haggerty and Luca Berardi, I am co-editing the Oxford Handbook of Ethnographies of Crime and Criminal Justice - to be published by Oxford University Press in 2019. This edited collection will draw together the leading criminological ethnographers to provide overview articles as well as cutting edge case studies.  

During my sabbatical in 2016/2017, I ethnographically studied how the biggest global refugee crisis since WWII is playing out in a small, conservative, and deeply catholic German village. By interviewing refugees and village residents, I am examining how integration works outside of big cities and in a non-traditional immigration space.

Together with Dr. Carolyn Greene from Athabasca University, I examine how police organizations in the province have responded to the influx of the Syrian refugee community and how they build successful partnerships with newcomer communities. 

Together with Dr. Sara Thompson from Ryerson University, I am engaged in several projects looking at how law enforcement organizations in Canada reach out to communities thought to be 'at risk' of radicalization, and how these initiatives are perceived by the communities, with a particular focus on the Somali diaspora in Edmonton, Toronto, and Surrey/B.C. (funded by CSSP and TSAS)

If you are a potential graduate student interested in working on any of these projects, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Besides my scientific endeavors, I have a strong dedication to teaching and supervision. One undergraduate level at the University of Alberta I have taught:

• Introduction to Criminology - SOC 225

• Decolonialisation and Racism - SOC 370

• Crime and Public Policy -SOC 423

• Immigration, Ethnicity, and Crime -SOC 402

Graduate student mentoring has also become a big part of my research program, and one that I take particularly seriously. I strongly believe in fostering a community and mutual learning environment among my graduate students. I am doing this, for example, by running an informal academic book club for the graduate students who are working with me in various capacities. I also employ both undergraduate and graduate students for each of my projects. By integrating them into my projects, I not only offer my students training and research experience, but also opportunities to co-author on my data and to present on my research at international conferences. 

On the graduate level I have taught SOC 622 (Crime Ethnographies), SOC 525 (Criminology) as well as co-taught a course on radicalization and on prisons (with Dr. Haggerty).