My interests in a nutshell

I am interested in understanding processes of migration, mobility, transnationalisation and boundary making, and their concomitant production of inequalities linked to ethnicity, race, class, religion or gender.

My research is anchored in what has been called reflexive migration studies: I aim at developing in my work theoretical and methodological approaches which can overcome the nation-state- and ethnicity-centred epistemology that still largely informs migration studies and that creates particular forms of exclusions and reproduces hegemonic structures. More generally, I am interested in the way knowledge is produced within migration studies and how we can further de-migranticize research on migration.

I follow in my work a post-migration/post-ethnic approach towards understanding the (transnational and local) social organization of “difference” and concomitant processes of “Othering” and their effects in terms of exclusion/inclusion. A useful approach to do so, among others, is s to apply qualitative social network analysis (SNA).  SNA is well suited in order to tackle the various critiques which have been formulated towards migration and mobility studies, particularly the critiques of methodological nationalism and groupism as well as the tendency to categorize groups a priori in terms of ethnicity: As SNA places the focus on the structure of social relations rather than on preliminary (ethnically, nationally) defined groups, the exploration of multilevel and crosscutting ties are explored, which in turn allows the “unbounding” of problematic concepts such as “ethnicity”, “groups” and ‘culture’.

Furthermore, I adopt in my work a transnational perspective. I argue that adopting a transnational perspective stands for endorsing a particular, alternative theoretical and epistemological stance on migration issues in order to bring to light processes with are still poorly understood by traditional migration research and by social theory in general.

Finally, I am also engaged in “public” research. I am convinced about the important role that social scientists are to play by getting involved in political debates, such as for example migration issues. I have, for instance, been commissioned by state authorities in Switzerland to study the working conditions of cabaret-dancers, or the dynamics of the so called ‘forced marriage’. I have also been organizing expositions or I often participate in round tables and similar public events.