NEW SEMINAR – From migration and refugee studies to homing… and beyond: Ilka Vari-Lavoisier, Luis Eduardo Pérez Murcia, Milena Belloni

The second seminar of HOMInG in 2018 (HS 15_18) will take place next February 27 at 4pm, Dpt. of Sociology. It will be based on three presentations by new HOMInG researchers Ilka Vari-Lavoisier, Luis Eduardo Pérez Murcia and Milena Belloni. See below for more details.

As usual, All welcome!

HS 15_18: From migration and refugee studies to homing… and beyond

February 27, 4pm, Trento – Dpt. of Sociology


Ilka Vari-Lavoisier – Operationalizing the Transnational Turn in Migration Studies: Collective and Transnational Research Designs in Practice

 At the core of this talk lies one research question: How does human mobility affect sending and receiving societies? Internal and international migration deeply affect the social, economic, and political life of contemporary societies – to investigate those complex interactions a series of innovative research designs emerged in the last decade. This talk proposes an overview of the pioneer endeavors, aiming at generating transnational evidence by collecting data from migrants’ countries of origin and destination, and a critical appraisal of the latest methodological developments in the study of mobility.

First, the review of the transnational quantitative data collections, that flourished in migration studies since the 1990’s, will stress the challenges raised by: the difficulty to capture the simultaneity of transnational flows, the lack of equivalences between quantitative categories across countries and contexts, and the trade-offs required to implement transnational sampling strategies.

Next, the review of the transnational qualitative data collections will show the progresses of multi-sited ethnographies since the early 2000’s. An overview of the latest collaborative qualitative research projects will show the benefits of teaming up to collect and analyze data jointly, across countries and disciplines. Through the presentation of a specific project – the TIMME survey –, the speaker will discuss the pitfalls and promises of multi-sited and interdisciplinary research design.

Finally, this talk will discuss the merits and limits of research designs that combined quantitative and qualitative methods, to collect “a body of data with greater reliability and more internal validity than could be achieved using either method alone” (Massey & Zenteno, 2000). It will conclude with a few words underlining the necessity of taking into account the materiality of intellectual dynamics in order to allow for the genuine cooperation of researchers coming from different disciplinary backgrounds and inserted in asymmetrical (institutional) contexts.


Luis Eduardo Pérez Murcia – ‘Looking at the Invisible’: The Painful Memories of Losing Home amongst Internally Displaced People in Colombia

 Drawing on the narratives of 72 participants who in the aftermath of violence and human rights abuses have fled within Colombia, this paper explores the temporal and spatial dimensions of the relationship between conflict, displacement and home. The paper’s overarching argument is that displacement results in the loss of a place called home and a perceived loss of a sense of home is one of the most significant impacts of displacement. Analysis of detailed interviews shows that displaced people experience their loss of home not only as the loss of a material shelter but above all as the loss of a social world, a familiar landscape, and an emotional-existential space in which their lives were previously socially, politically, economically, culturally, emotionally and existentially embedded. Indeed, for many, the loss of home signified a loss of their place in the world. The empirical findings  also show that the relationship between conflict, displacement and home is in part shaped by the type of violence which triggered displacement and its emotional and existential impacts. Many of those who have fled after being forcibly recruited, raped or tortured or having witnessed relative being killed, appear to experience a more devastating loss of home which is often  characterised by long-lasting feelings of pain, sorrow, and emotional impairment.


Milena Belloni – Becoming unaccustomed to homeNarratives of young Eritreans about estrangement, belonging, and the desire to leave home

Previous studies have described how migrants progressively transform extraneous spaces into familiar and meaningful environments, turning them into “homes”. However, in some contexts we may assist to the opposite process: what was once felt like home becomes alien, unrecognisable, and extraneous. The case of refugees and other forced migrants is useful to explore this process. As a matter of fact, they may experience extraneousness not only following their flight from home, but also before. The progressive loss of familiarity with what was once home may represent one of the main conditions underpinning their departure.

Drawing from my fieldwork in Eritrea I explore the feelings of estrangement experienced by my young informants. In dialogue with current literature on home, forced migration and estrangement, I discuss how these feelings are related to their desires to be elsewhere outside their country.