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Paolo Ruspini



Paolo Ruspini (MA Pol. Sci., PhD, Milan) is a political scientist who has been researching issues of international and European migration and integration since 1997 with a comparative approach and by drawing on mixed methods. His current research deals with transnational migration from a theoretical and empirical perspective. The geographical focus of his work spans from Western to Central and South-Eastern Europe and cover also the post-Soviet migration space with emphasis on the dynamics and multimodal character of migration flows in a changing policy context. He has been working in many collaborative projects at European and national level and he is active in research networks regarding international migration as well as being from time to time advisor for national and international organizations.

He is currently visiting scholar at Franklin University Switzerland, Lugano, Switzerland (since October 2017); associate researcher at the Institute of Sociological Research (IRS), Geneva School of Social Science, University of Geneva, Switzerland (since September 2017); member of the Karl Polányi Research Center for Global Social Studies at Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary (since July 2016); honorary research fellow at the Department of Social Sciences, University of Roehampton, London, United Kingdom (since January 2016); associate fellow at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Institute of Law, Politics and Development (DIRPOLIS), Pisa, Italy (since July 2014); and he has been senior researcher for more than nine years at the Faculty of Communication Sciences of the University of Lugano (USI), Switzerland (starting from February 2008).

From October 2013 until May 2014 he was visiting professor at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, in Pisa. He has also been associate fellow at the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations (CRER) of the University of Warwick for ten years until the CRER closed in September 2011.

In the year 2001, Ruspini received a Marie Curie individual fellowship for his project “Living on the Edge: Irregular Migrants in Europe” (2001-2002) and he also received a German Marshall Fund and other smaller grants for holding the position of principal investigator at CRER for the research project in collaboration with the Centre of Migration Research of Warsaw University, “In Search for a New Europe: Contrasting Migratory Experiences” (2001-2005). Paolo Ruspini was also visiting scholar at the Mershon Center for Education, Ohio State University (1998) and worked for the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (1995-1996). He combines research activities with routine lectures in a number of universities and international institutions. Besides a significant number of papers which he contributed to international conferences, he is also the author of an array of publications on migration.


The link between current migration, immigrant integration and migrant transnationalism lies at the core of my research and teaching. The present circular, often repetitive flows of labour and return migration can generate specific social challenges that exceed the capacities of traditional integration programmes developed for unidirectional migration. Under conditions of globalisation, the growing transnationalism (and the role of diasporas) urges a redefinition of the traditional notions of integration. Notions of identity are evolving as individuals increasingly ‘belong’ to more than one country and society.

Transnational communities are thus becoming an important way to organise activities, relationships and identity for the growing number of people with affiliations in different countries.  Consistent outflows of asylum seekers moving from neighbouring countries to the European continent adds further challenges in view of the specific needs of these vulnerable persons which include a significant number of women and children. Intercultural competences and the ability to deal with diversity are then increasingly important aspects in migrant-receiving, transit and return locations.

Current or recent research projects are listed hereafter:

SAREP - Study Abroad Research in European Perspective (from Apr. 2016) is the four-year COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Action CA15130 lead by the University College Cork in Ireland. In the context of increasing international education and study abroad at both European and international level, SAREP aims to explore the nature, experiences, benefits and limitations of study and residence abroad in the case of second language learners who participate in growing numbers in international exchange programmes. SAREP adopts a multi-thematic prism, drawing on research relating to the learner's linguistic, intercultural, social, personal, academic and professional development, reflecting the widespread belief in the potential benefits that can accrue to the learner in a study abroad context. SAREP offers different insights into the complexity of study abroad as a context of second language learning through both quantitative and qualitative analysis, drawing on wide-ranging methodological approaches and tools of investigation. With the support of the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), the SAREP Management Committee has been joined. Activity: contributions will be especially provided to the Working Group 3: ‘Integration and social networks in residence abroad’ and Working Group 5: ‘Interculturality and diversities in stays abroad’.

Migration and Transnationalism between Switzerland and Bulgaria: assessing social inequalities and regional disparities in the context of changing policies (Jan. 2013 - Jun. 2016) is a three and a half years joint research project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation together with the Science Directorate of the Bulgarian Ministry of Education, Youth and Science in the framework of Swiss contribution to the EU enlargement. The project focuses on migration from Bulgaria to Switzerland since Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007 and became part of the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU in 2009. It analyses in detail, how social inequalities and regional disparities in Bulgaria as well as in Switzerland have an effect on migration flows. The other project’s members are Michael Nollert and Marina Richter (University of Fribourg, Switzerland), Vesselin Mintchev (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Bulgaria) and Docho Mihailov (Agency for Socioeconomic Analyses, Bulgaria). Activity: research, participation in meetings and conferences, preparation of a book for an international publisher and other peer-review publications.

ISTME - In search of transcultural memory in Europe (Dec. 2012 - Oct. 2016) is the four-year COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Action IS 1203 lead by the Center for European Studies of Lund University which aims to go beyond the nationally oriented memory studies that tend to reify the bond between culture, nation and memory. Instead ISTME will investigate the transcultural dynamics of memory in Europe today. Drawing on recent theoretical insights that point to the importance of memory migration, mediation and new media ISTME seeks to develop new methods for studying and comparing effects of memory transmission over cultural borders. With the support of the Swiss State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER), the ISTME Management Committee has been joined. Activity: contribution to the working group focusing on memory and migration (WG3).

ADAPT - Adapting European health systems to diversity (Nov. 2012 - Jul. 2016) is the four-year COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Action IS 1103 lead by the University of Amsterdam, Centre for Social and Global Health which aims to promote the adoption and implementation of policies on migrant and ethnic minority health responding to the increased diversity of European societies. It builds on the achievements of COST Action IS0603 “Health and Social Care for Migrants and Ethnic Minorities” (HOME), which reviewed health inequalities among migrants and ethnic minorities as well as the measures designed to remedy them. ADAPT will take this work forward, identifying obstacles to translating this knowledge into action as well as ‘levers for change’. With the support of the Swiss State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER), the ADAPT Management Committee has been joined. Activity: contribution to the Working Group (WG) 1 “Policies and practices concerning MEM health in Europe and analysis of their sources of variation”. In this context, from October 2014, preparation with the Swiss Red Cross of the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) Health strand questionnaire and draft of a country report for Switzerland in the IOM Equi-Health project’s framework.