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 have offered consultations for internal and national NGOs on migration issues and I am regularly invited to offer training courses in non-academic contexts.
My forthcoming book, entitled Immigrant Activism and Pro-Immigrant Supporters: Conflicts, Alliances, and Racialization in Hostile Environments, is under contract with Routledge in their ‘Research in Migration and Ethnic Relations’ series. Based on extensive ethnographic research that I conducted in four Italian cities between 2013 and 2014 and about 12o 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: INTERSEC_RACE: Challenging the Security/Migration Nexus through an Intersectional Lens: Migration Politics, Racism and Gender in the Mediterranean Region
The project is about a comparative study on the nexus of contemporary racism and the securitization of migration in two Mediterranean countries—Spain and Morocco. Focusing on the evolution of selected public debates, the study examine how open or veiled racist discourses and interlinked practices of political elites (i.e. policy makers, political parties and key intellectuals) have been contributed to othering the two largest immigrant groups in each country—Moroccan ‘Arabs’ in Spain and ‘Black’ sub-Saharan Africans in Morocco—through processes of racialization and gender-based stigmatization. It will also investigate how these groups have exposed and challenged these processes through grassroots mobilizations with the help of civil society organizations. Using an intersectional lens, the study will, moreover, address the gendered dimensions of racism and anti-racism by focusing on how women and men are affected differently and how gender matters in the migration context. The study uses a mixed-qualitative method approach, combining multi-sited field research with critical discourse analysis to map the discourses and practices of key political actors and their challengers. The project won the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions Seal of Excellence, a quality label awarded by the European Commission in March 2019 for the MSCA Individual Fellowships Call of 2018 (Score 86.60%).
Project 2: TRANSFORM_EDUC: 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).