I am a political sociologist and I specialize in the sociology of migration and critical ethnic and racial relations in the Mediterranean region. My research bridges several literatures in the migration field–i.e. citizenship studies, theories of immigrants’ political incorporation, and ethnic and racial politics—with social movement studies, critical race theories and intersectionality to examine how receiving societies (especially the state and civil society organisations) exclude and racialize immigrants and ethnic minorities and how these groups respond through grassroots mobilizations. My work has appeared in International Migration Review, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Southern European Society and Politics, and European Journal of Political Research as well as in several chapters of co-authored books. I am also developing new pedagogies in higher education and beyond to address conflicts in society around diversity and inclusion (see Project 2 below). I am regularly hired to offer my expert advice as a consultant for NGOs and Think tanks on migration and discrimination issues and I am regularly invited to offer training courses on human rights and discrimination in non-academic contexts.
My forthcoming book, entitled Reframing Resistance: Alliances, Conflicts,and Immigrant Racialization in Italy, is under contract with Routledge. Based on extensive ethnographic research that I conducted in four Italian cities between 2013 and 2014 and about 120 interviews, the study analyzes the efforts immigrants and pro-immigrant groups of the civil society make to resist state actors’ production of exclusion and precariousness in immigrant communities after the financial crisis of 2008 in Italy. One of the main contributions of my work is to show that, in addition to state actors, pro-immigrant groups often play a crucial role in excluding and racializing immigrant activists in the struggles that concern them, thereby reducing the scope of immigrants’ greater inclusion in receiving societies. Additionally, considering migrant activists as relevant political players, my research shows their role in transforming narratives about integration from below.
Currently, I am working on two new projects.
Project 1: Migration Politics, Racism and Gender Violence in Morocco and on the Moroccan-Spanish Borders: An Actor-Oriented Approach to Study Racism and Anti-Racism at the Intersection with Gender
This study focuses on Morocco (and partly on both sides of the Moroccan-Spanish borders) to examine the nexus between the securitization of borders and the socio-political operation of contemporary racism at its intersection with increasing gender- based violence against Black Sub-Saharan immigrants. It will focus on three key socio-political dimensions of racism and anti-racism: (1) The potential role of Moroccan political elites (and the influence of the EU and Spain) in activating and legitimizing (wittingly or unwittingly) abuse and violence towards ‘Black Sub-Saharan’ immigrants; (2) The strategies of immigrant activists to expose and challenge racism with the help of Moroccan and Spanish civil society supporters; and, (3) The ways Black Sub-Saharan immigrants experience and challenge racism. Using an intersectional lens, the study will also examine how race and gender intersect and address the gendered dimensions of racism and anti-racism focusing on the three axes highlighted above.The empirical analysis will use a mixed-method approach and rely on desktop research and fieldwork of about 9 months mainly in Morocco, but also on both sides of the Moroccan-Spanish borders. It will combine about 65 semi-structured interviews with a multiplicity of actors, participant observation of key events, and a selection of key texts produced by political elites and their challengers.
The project won the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions Seal of Excellence, a quality label awarded by the European Commission in March 2020 for the MSCA Individual Fellowships Call of 2019 (Score 90.80%; reserve list). It is currently funded by the Swedish agency VINNOVA.
Project 2: Developing Transformative, Community-based Pedagogies in Higher Education and Beyond: Theories and Practices
European universities are becoming increasingly diverse, with students from different countries, socio-demographic backgrounds, and visible and invisible dis/abilities. However, they have, so far, largely failed to reflect and act on the ways academic and non-academic settings can develop more comprehensively inclusive curricula, where diversity—in terms of class, gender, race, nationality, sexual orientation and/or abilities—is not only acknowledged, respected and represented, but where teachers and students can reflect about their role in a changing world and be empowered to imagine together a decolonial and more just future (Freire 2015). Building on the fundamental work of authors, such as Paulo Freire, bell hooks, and Henry Giroux, TRANSFORM_EDUC explores theoretical and practical challenges and opportunities as well as innovative tools to develop transformative, communuty-based pedagogies. Transformative pedagogy may be defined as “an activist pedagogy combining the elements of constructivist and critical pedagogy that empowers students to examine critically their beliefs, values, and knowledge with the goal of developing a reflective knowledge base, an appreciation for multiple perspectives, and a sense of critical consciousness and agency” (Ukpokodu 2009). The project, therefore, explores theories and practices that question and decentralize traditional education and develop alternative pedagogies, and especially new practical tools, to empower teachers and students in class and beyond. It draws on experiences in academic and non-academic settings from European and other countries around the globe. It will build on community-based practices developed in non-academic settings, and especially in the context of peace-building processes in post-conflict zones (UNESCO 2017).