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Salma Mousa

Salma Mousa

Ph.D. Candidate


Salma Mousa is a PhD Candidate (ABD) in Political Science at Stanford University. A scholar of comparative politics, her research focuses on migration, conflict, and social cohesion. 

Salma's three-paper dissertation investigates strategies for building trust and tolerance after war. Leveraging field experiments among Iraqis displaced by ISIS, Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and Palestinians in Israel, she shows how social contact can change real-world behaviors — even if underlying prejudice remains unchanged.  She argues that war hardens political attitudes and beliefs about the outgroup. Nevertheless, contact can restore everyday coexistence after violence. Related studies of different forms of contact in other settings, like American classrooms and British soccer clubs, similarly conclude that prejudicial behaviors may be easier to shift than attitudes.

A secondary research agenda tackles the challenge of integrating refugees in the United States. Combining a meta-analytic review, ethnographic fieldwork, and field experiments with resettlement agencies, this project identifies risk factors and promising policies for new arrivals.

Salma has held fellowships at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Stanford’s Immigration Policy Lab, the Freeman Spogli Institute, the Stanford Center for International Conflict and Negotiation, the McCoy Center for Ethics in Society, and the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society. Her work has been supported by the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (JPAL), the Innovations for Poverty Action Lab (IPA), the King Center on Global Development, the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences (IRiSS), the Program on Governance and Local Development (GLD), and the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies. Her research has also been covered by The EconomistBBC, and Der Spiegel, and featured on the front page of the Times of London and a dedicated episode of PBS NOVA.