Migration, Religion and Gender

2015-2018, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship of the European Commission, European University Institute, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, Global Governance Programme, 'Migrant Christianity. Migration, Religion and Work in Comparative Perspective: Evangelical ‘ethnic churches’ in Southern Europe' (on-going).

How do Evangelical migrants use religion and church-related networks to seek employment, pursue social mobility, construct respectability and resist racism? How do Evangelical churches become ‘brokers’ of socio-economic integration of their members thus stakeholders in immigration countries? These are the main questions that this project seeks to answer. MIGRANTCHRISTIANITY investigates how migrant men and women from Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America make use of a minority religion in negotiating their social and economic integration in Europe.

More specifically, the project focuses on Ghanaian and Ecuadorian migrants in Italy and Spain. I investigate how migrants develop strategies of integration through the Evangelical churches and how such strategies are shaped by ethnicity, class, gender and age. I also look at how Evangelical churches act as ‘brokers’ of integration, in relation to employment but also with reference to a wider social positioning of the migrant as a ‘minority Christian’. In doing so, my research contributes to our understanding of the role of minority religions in migrants’ integration or marginalisation and how migration is reconfiguring the Italian and Spanish societies through the production of new understandings of Christianity that challenge the Catholic majority religion as well as dominant views of migrant religion as Islam only. The project brings together two hitherto separate strands of research – that on migrant labour and ethnicity, and on migration-driven Evangelical churches.

Gender and Anti-Immigration Mobilisations

2018-2019, British Academy Mid-Career fellowship (project title: Gender and the populist radical right in Europe).

2012-2014, European Research Council, Starting grant, 'Gendering Activism in populist Radical Right Parties: A Comparative Study of Women’s and Men’s Participation in The Northern League (Italy) and The National Front (France)'.

2010, British Academy small grant, 'Gendering the study of anti-immigration movements in Europe: women and men activists in the Northern League party in Italy’. 

2010, Adam Smith Research Foundation Seedcorn grant, ‘Women’s associations and representations of gender in the Northern League party: a study of documentary sources’.


Migrant and Native Women's Activism in Italy

2012, British Academy small grant, 'An ethnographic study of migrant and native women's associations in Italy'.

2011, Sociology Seedcorn funding, University of Glasgow, 'Italian feminism and the challenge of international migration’.

Migrant care/domestic labour in Italy and France

, Doctoral research Les migrant(e)s dans le service domestique en France et en Italie: construction sociale de la relation de service au croisement des rapports sociaux de sexe, de race et de classe(Migrant women and men in the domestic service sector in France and Italy. The social construction of the service relation at the intersection of gender, ‘race’ and class). Funded by the French Ministère de l’Education nationale, de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche (French Ministry of Scientific Research) through an Allocation de recherché (PhD Studentship); and by Aides à la mobilité internationale pour les co-tutelles de thèse (Travel bursary for students enrolled in inter-university international programmes), Franco-Italian University.


A presentation of my research work

In my doctoral dissertation (2002-2005), I have researched the issues of gender, racism and migrant labour, more specifically the intersections between the social divisions of care work, the restructuring of welfare state systems and international migration in comparative perspective in European societies. Care as a resource is unequally distributed in the world: on the one hand, middle-class women in affluent countries increasingly rely on migrant and racialised women to 'buy out' domestic and care work, in societies characterised by durable inequalities in the sexual division of labour and the restructuring of public care provision.

My ethnographic comparative study of migrant women's and men's employment in care jobs in France and Italy addressed the international division of care work, by bringing together the restructuring of Welfare states and of the labour market, international migration and immigration policies, the changing patterns of the sexual division of work and those of women's employment in contemporary European societies. One original contribution of the book is to compare different forms of organisation of work relations, by examining the traditional household-based domestic service relationship between a private employer and an employee (in Italy) and care-givers working in non-profit associations providing home-based services (in France). Indeed, in recent years scholars have pointed to the necessity of incorporating into the analysis of the 'international care chains' other agents of social reproduction besides the households, such as the market, the non-profit sector, the Welfare State and immigration policies. More specifically, the book explores the interplay of social relations of gender, class and racism in training and recruitment practices, where ideas of 'cultural difference' and 'femininity' are embedded and negotiated. The cross-national comparative perspective sheds light on the different ways in which Otherness and 'skill' are socially constructed in two very different national context, characterised by specific care and gender regimes, migratory patterns, public policies, models of integration and forms of organisation of care work.

After completion of my doctoral dissertation I have continued researching these topics. My research on migrant domestic labour and the international division of care work has responded to recent scholarly debates: researchers have expressed reservations about the narrow focus of existing studies. Most of these concerned only female labour and female employers within domestic service, and examined the traditional household-based domestic service while neglecting actors, institutions and settings of care work within the public sphere. My work successfully broke with these restrictions so as to broaden our definitions of the international division of care by including the issues of men’s work and masculinities, and, further, by addressing migrants working as cleaners and care-givers within institutional and bureaucratised settings.

More recently, but building on this earlier research, I have started to investigate migrant women's collective mobilisations and how feminist politics deals with the challenge of migration, with particular regard to the issue of domestic labour. Very few studies examine the impact of migration on feminist practices and the role of migrant activists in Italy. These studies tend to downplay the organisation of domestic work and its impact on migrant women's political participation. Yet my research findings suggested that the organisation of domestic work heavily affects the political relationship between native and migrant women in Italy.

Since 2010 I have worked on women’s activism and gender relations in the Italian anti-immigration parties. My recent research fundd by the European Research Council focused on the Northern League party (NL) in Italy and the National Front party (NF) in France.

As a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Research Fellow at the European University Institute of Florence (Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, Global Governance Programme), I am currently researching Evangelical migrants in Southern Europe, within the project funded by the European Commission titled MIGRANTCHRISTIANITY. Migration, Religion and Work in Comparative Perspective: Evangelical ‘ethnic churches’ in Southern Europe (2015-2017).