My interests in a nutshell

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 not only creates particular forms of exclusions but also runs the risk to reproduce hegemonic structures. I proposed a few years ago to 'de-migranticize' research on migration and integration as one possible way to tackle some of the problems migration studies are confronted with. Meanwhile I became more generally interested in the pattern how knowledge is produced within migration studies and the ethical, political and epistemological consequences that go with it. I argue that in the realm of migration, both the logic of the nation-state as well as coloniality (in intersection with gender/sexuality and class) underlay contemporary forms of Othering and exclusions. In this sense, I am interested in my research in processes of (de)migrantization and racialization, always in their intersections with gender and class

My intellectual roots go back to my training as a social anthropologist in the 1990: During my studies I was inspired by many feminist, postcolonial, and nationalism scholars and their work, among others, on essentialist uses of 'culture' and ethnicity or, more generally, on cultural racism (racism without race). Also the work of women of the South who strongly started to criticize western liberal feminists for their racist and exclusionary ideas were formative for me. That's how my journey as a social scientist started: I was trying to make sense and theorize the 'work' of categories - like women/men, foreigners, migrants, nations, 'us' and 'them' - in view of their embeddedness in systems of power and inequalities.

Today, my theoretical toolbox consists of a multiplicity of approaches: Intersectional border studies and boundary making approaches allow me to grasp in a micro-sociological perspective processes of exclusion, both of structural and symbolic character. I also find qualitative social network analysis (SNA) useful in order overcome some of the critiques which have been formulated towards migration and mobility studies as SNA allows the “unbounding” of problematic concepts such as “ethnicity”, “groups” and ‘culture’. Furthermore, I adopt in my work a mobility lens: This helps me to carve out the embeddedness and entanglement of individual mobilities within asymmetrical power relations. This lens allows also to unveil inequalities and inter-dependencies caused by and shaped within global inequalities and different regimes of mobility. Finally, adopting a transnational perspective allows me to endorse a theoretical and epistemological stance on migration issues which can bring to light processes with are still poorly understood by traditional migration research and by social theory in general. If you are interested in discovering how I apply these theoretical ideas in my research projects, please consult my 'research' or 'publication' page.

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 as much as I contribute with blogs to public debates.