Militant Research in Migration Studies with Irene Peano

The event is part of the seminar series Migration in a Global Perspective and will take place on February 14, Room 102, Faculty of Sociology and Social Assistance, Panduri Campus at 17.00.

In the last decades, the production of knowledge about migration increased significantly. Migration is the object of research in academia, policy institutes, non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations, and other agencies. Knowledge about migration is circulated in the form of scholarly publications, surveys, reports, public policy recommendations, risk evaluations, etc. Most of these approaches see migration through the framework of the nation-state and citizenship, portraying migrants as leaving one nation-state and trying to enter another and, eventually, to obtain citizenship in the new state. In terms of geography, most approaches depict migrants at the borders of European/Western/Anglo-American states. Also, these approaches display an asymmetry between researcher, postulated as the impartial/neutral scientist, and the researched, i.e. migrants, considered the object of management, control, care, or advocacy. But are these standard ways of producing knowledge politically neutral, or do they contribute to the governmental management and control of migration? How might migrants’ movements and the politics of mobility transcend the paradigm of the nation-state? Could migration be theorized beyond the Euro-Atlantic political imaginary of control and security? Can the asymmetry of researcher and researched in migration be challenged? This seminar attempts to tackle these issues from within the practice of a ‘militant research’ where knowledges and day-to-day actions interact and question each other. Also, the seminar will clarify what it means to engage in militant research practice in the field of migration, and how militant investigations produce alternative epistemologies of migration.

Short bio: Dr Irene Peano received a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge in 2011, and held a Marie Curie postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Bologna from 2012 to 2016. Her research employs a trans-disciplinary perspective and focuses on issues of (bonded or heavily exploited) labour and migration, considering their reciprocal intersections but also their entanglements with gender and race as dispositifs of subjectification. She has carried out extensive field research in Nigeria and in different parts of Italy (most notably Piedmont, Apulia and Calabria), exploring dynamics of bonded migrant sex labour, also in relation to migrant farm labour, to mobility control and humanitarian regimes. She is currently researching similar dynamics in the context of Romanian farm-labour migration to Italy.

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