A small village with a big heart: Camini roundtable and field visit

The third of the series of field visits and roundtables of the  ‘Welcoming Spaces’ brought us to a hilly commune of  Camini,  in the Italian region Calabria. Located about 50km south of Catanzaro and about 80 kilometres (50 mi) northeast of Reggio Calabria, Camini borders the municipalities of Riace, Stignano and Stilo.

From November 23-27, 2022, a team of researchers from the University of Bologna (Alice Lomonaco, Elena Giacomelli and Chiara Davino) and the University of Utrecht (Jose Ricardo Martins and Jofelle Tesorio) further investigated the success and critical factors of the case study of Camini and the Eurocoop Jungi Mundu cooperative, a material for reflection and analysis together with the other European case studies of the Welcoming Spaces project. Through interviews and direct observations, the visiting researchers collected data from the experiences of the migrants, the residents, and the people behind the welcoming initiatives, including from the officials of the municipality Camini.

On November 26, a roundtable entitled ‘Leaving, Staying, Returning? The role of the imaginary in the relationship between migrations and territories’ brought together the different actors in making Camini a welcoming space, including the migrants themselves. The roundtable was a result of two research projects carried out by the Department of Sociology and Business Law of the University of Bologna: the Horizon2020 project “Welcoming Spaces” and the project financed by the Emilia-Romagna Region “Towards a tourism of roots in Emilia-Romagna: Memories, imaginary, expectations and desires of the emigrants from Emilia-Romagna in Argentina and Brazil for a hospitable journey to discover their origins’. The main objective of the latter project is to investigate the feeling of belonging of the emigrants from Emilia-Romagna and their descendants residing in Argentina and Brazil to Emilia-Romagna and their expectations or habits when travelling to the places of their origins.

The various experiences and expertise of speakers and the audience in the Camini roundtable valorised the different types of knowledge, from academic to social work and from photographer to migrants, allowing the co-construction of a different and new imaginary, anchored in the time and space of a different Europe.

Held at the municipality’s community hall, the roundtable was also participated online by other project partners and speakers. However, a common case in many ‘shrinking areas’, the real challenge for the roundtable in Camini was the internet connection. But at the end, it was resolved, and the face-to-face interactions with the participants and migrants brought many ideas and cultural exchanges, including a long table of multi-ethnic buffet lunch prepared by the families living in the area (see pictures). This proves the richness and cohesion the welcoming village has created in their area.

The roundtable was attended by policy makers, scholars, local actors and representatives of the institutions (Pierluigi Musarò – Coordinator Welcoming Spaces Italia, University of Bologna, Paola Barretta – Associazione Carta di Roma, Karen Urso – University of Calabria, Giulia Galera – Miledù and Euricse, Melissa Moralli – University of Bologna, Ruggero Marra – Councillor for the Environment, Ecological Transition and Youth Policies of Villa San Giovanni, Giulia Sonzogno – Officina Giovani Aree Interne, Marina Gabrieli – National Coordinator of the Project “Tourism from the Roots” of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rosario Zurzolo – President Jungi Mundu, Elena Giacomelli – University of Bologna, Chiara Davino – University of Bologna, Ricardo Martins – University of Utrecht, Keina Espineira – University of La Coruña, Jofelle Tesorio, University of Utrecht, Alice Lomonaco – University of Bologna) contributing to produce new representations on these territories.  

Photobook launching

During the Camini roundtable, the photographic project “Connections. Collaborative imaginaries of territories in change across Europe’ (free download at https://issuu.com/melmor23/docs/connections._the_itinerant_book) was also launched through an exhibition. The exhibition presented the stories, photographs and emotional maps created directly by those who are living the everyday life in communities in transformation across Europe. The result is the co-construction of a different and new imageries, anchored in the time and space of a different Europe. The images are full of hope for the future, desire for change, complex encounters, and collective utopias. Some participating ‘community photographers’ also talked about their ideas, feelings, and meanings about the photos they took.

One of the many takeaways learned from this experience in organising is to always include and value the involvement of the community (locals and newcomers) and the place where the event is taking place, especially at the “after-covid19” phase. The in-person events are essential to make a dialogue between different types of knowledge (academic and non-academic) and cannot be replaced by online interactions.

The Welcoming Spaces project aims to address two current political challenges in an innovative way: the revitalisation of Europe’s ‘inner areas’ and the creation of welcoming and inclusive spaces. It involves the Netherlands (project leader), Italy, Germany, Spain and Poland.

Acknowledgments: We would like to thank the entire community of Camini for the warm welcome, the support and willingness you showed on this occasion; for the families in the community who prepared the multi-ethnic buffet, a heart-warming example of the richness and cohesion in this small village with a big heart.

Agency, entrepreneurship and employment: Learning from each other, about and from migrants

By José Ricardo Martins

As part of the Welcoming Spaces project of bringing together experts, policy makers, migrants, community leaders and members to talk about the various issues surrounding migration, development and other processes in different municipalities and regions in Europe, a roundtable in  Saalfeld, Thuringia, Germany was held on September 22, 2022. It was an opportunity to gather and talk about policies and experiences related to the emplacement of migrants. It was an enlightening experience, and we want to share some of the highlights with you.

Bringing everyone to the table

  • We brought together migrants, policymakers, practitioners, citizens, and academics to discuss and learn from each other about positive welcoming initiatives and the challenges that migrants, policymakers, and practitioners face
  • We discussed topics such as migrants’ agency, entrepreneurial capacity, and employment hardships
  • It was great to hear about different cases of long-term residents working together in socio-entrepreneurship activities, like in Altenburg and Saalfeld

Sustainability challenges

  • One thing we noticed is that a lot of welcoming initiatives have sustainability issues, not just those run by civil society but also those led by the government
  • In terms of governance and policy, we discussed issues such as discontinuity in funding, difficulties fitting new demands into old systems, and lack of stable structures and financing for integration work
  • Additionally, we talked about challenges related to mobility in rural areas, housing shortages, and labour market integration, including racism and discrimination

Our recommendations

Based on these discussions, we came up with some recommendations for improving the emplacement of migrants:

  • Project funding should be transferred into regular public funding structures and, therefore, new integration laws are needed to rule the money distribution from the top–down
  • There is a need for a participation law to mitigate the top-down ruling
  • Crowdfunding is recommended to avoid the bureaucratic distribution of money
  • Make jobs more attractive to find personal
  • Arrange regular and visible offers for advice (done by local governments and other organizations in place, nearby by the people)
  • Multiply the announcements by majors to all inhabitants (“Bürgerbrief”) in ad-hoc situations
  • Make more use of technical tools, such as video translations
  • Run the welcoming programs with regular public funding, such as the education budget
  • As places for social gatherings are very important for inclusion, these should also be funded on a structural basis too
  • Promote public debates on discrimination in employment and schools
  • Communication does not only function via traditional forms but many other channels can be used, such as art, music, theatre, etc
  • Keep in mind that welcoming spaces are “making creative spaces”

We hope you found this summary of our roundtable event informative and thought-provoking. We believe that by working together and implementing these recommendations, we can create a more inclusive and welcoming society for everyone. To know more about the Saalfeld Roundtable, please access the full report here.

“We at civi kune RLP are thrilled about our partnership with the “Welcoming Spaces” research project. It’s vital that our on-the-ground experiences inform the research and that questions arising from our work are examined in a scientific context. The Saalfeld conference provided a great platform for exchange. Our 15-person delegation, comprising project staff, migrants, and committed individuals from various districts in Rhineland-Palatinate and Thuringia, offered a variety of opportunities for exchange and interesting encounters. This helps improve our work at the state level and on the ground in “welcoming places” such as local initiatives and meeting cafes. Especially the participation of migrants, which is crucial, makes our work sustainable.” – Okka Senst of civi kune RLP from Rheinland-Palatinate (Germany)

Visualising welcoming spaces across Europe: Our digital photo book

What makes the place where you live welcoming and how would you capture this in an image?

People have their own ways of looking at the village or town where they live in. Through the photo workshop, we learned that locals are proud of the places they live – “Everyone should come to live in Bedum”, they enjoy peace and quiet – “Morning in Łomża … I fall in love with every house and every café, avenue and park”, they value nature – “The mountains surrounding Camini make me feel good” and they appreciate the historical sites and buildings – “The buildings around the castle in Altenburg look like the old buildings in my home country, it always feeds me”.  

In a two-day photo workshop in Altenburg (Germany), Bedum (The Netherlands), Camini (Italy), Łomża (Poland) and Talayuela (Spain), together with the locals – both newcomers and long-term residents, we delved into these questions and explored how locals see their village or town. The places are often considered not only peripheral as opposed to the larger urban centres, but also in decline as a result of young people moving away, ageing population, and a decrease in public services such as public transport, local grocery shops or schools. At the same time, these villages and towns turned out favourable locations for the reception of newcomers – due to their peripheral location and available space or the welcoming initiatives enabling newcomers to participate in these communities. A closer look into these places shows that people are getting to know each other, exchange experiences and stories, and together build new communities.  

We are happy to present our digital photo book where the pictures and stories of newcomers and not so newcomers in declining regions across Europe come together.  

FIERI’s annual documentary festival on migration – October 4th – November 16th , 2022

Overheated Connections18th edition of the Crocevia di Sguardi

In 2022, Europe is facing the consequences of global dramas such as the end of the Western presence in Afghanistan and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Borders are being closed, strategies for the inclusion of immigrants and asylum seekers are being abandoned, and continuous erosion of workers’ rights is taking place. We live in an increasingly overheated world in which climate change is only one of several dimensions of crisis at play.

“Overheated Connections” is the title of Crocevia di Sguardi (now in its 18th edition) in a mixed online and in-person format. The documentaries in programme highlight the connections between global forces and local worlds, proposing new ways to cool destructive interconnections: through a radical ecological turn, demilitarization, the political leadership of youth and children of migration, and the power of art, in all its expressions. In addition to the presence of scholars, researchers, and activists, meetings with filmmakers Federico Francioni and Dagmawi Yimer enrich this edition.

All documentaries will be both presented in theaters and made accessible, after registration, on the Festivalscope platform. The seminars will be live streamed on the Crocevia di Sguardi Facebook page.

Check the programme here.

Join our Welcoming Spaces Roundtable in Saalfeld (Germany) 22-23 September 2022

Agency, entrepreneurship and employment: Learning from each other about and from migrants

Welcoming initiatives can contribute to the further development of shrinking areas while also offering space for the successful social inclusion of non-EU migrants in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (‘leaving no one behind’). Often welcoming initiatives are run by cooperating actors from different societal fields, and their actions and impact depend on the local contexts.

Despite a lot of creative energy and good examples of welcoming culture, the welcome initiatives are experiencing growing challenges, but there are also encouraging practical experiences. That is why we bring together actors of the welcoming initiatives in Thuringia and Rhineland-Palatinate, besides sharing international experiences from Italy, Netherlands, Poland and Spain. The roundtable is organised in the framework of the international comparative and EU-funded research project ‘Welcoming Spaces in Europe’ (www.welcomingspaces.eu).

Objectives of the Roundtable
The event aims at bringing together politicians, city councilors, public administrators responsible for migration inclusion, social policy workers and development planners at the local, district and state levels, as well as migrants, international researchers, and practitioners from social organisations/NGOs to share experiences, ideas and receive new insights related to the sustainable (long-term) inclusion of migrants and the development of their territories. The underlying question is:

What entails sustainable migrant inclusion?

The roundtable includes many speakers from the field discussing welcoming initiatives, governance and pathways to social inclusion. Please click on the link to open the entire programme of the Roundtable and its speakers.

Organic Farming in Italy’s Shrinking Areas: what Opportunities for Newcomers?

By Simone Cappati (Master in International Development Studies)

A handful of committed Italian NGOs and small-town mayors believe that organic farming has the potential to tear down cultural and language barriers while revitalizing the local economies and safeguarding the natural landscape. Can organic agriculture truly provide a lifeline for the emplacement of migrant newcomers in Italy’s shrinking spaces? My Master’s Thesis research took me to the hamlets nested in the Camonica Valley or speckled over the rolling hills of Monferrato. There, I met refugees that had traveled over land and sea in search of a better future, and Italian agripreneurs that had returned to the land of their forefathers looking for a new challenge. Their serendipitous encounter is where this story begins.

Off the beaten tracks of Northern Italy, a couple hours’ train ride from the sprawling urban centers of Milan and Turin, lay a multitude of scattered small towns. In these villages, where people know each other by name and families go back generations, time seems to have frozen. And yet, the passing of the years has left a mark – in the peeling plaster of the walls, the empty, dilapidated houses, and the old fences succumbing to shrubs and undergrowth. These are the tell-tale signs of a shrinking space, where economic decline goes together with a decreasing population and landscape degradation. Parts of the Camonica Valley and the Monferrato started shrinking in the 1970s, when the locals abandoned their family farms, once the backbone of the local rural economy, and began flocking to nearby cities looking for a job in the factories. The old wisdom of the farmers faded into oblivion, and traditional practices were slowly forgotten.

“We have paths to clear, woodlands to clean up, we have a lot of things that need to be done, things that we, the local residents, do not want to do. Our young generations do not want to work in agriculture.” (P., agri-preneur)

The two NGOs visited during fieldwork. Adapted from Wikimedia commons.

Despite their socio-economic marginalization, these areas are no stranger to solidarity. Local NGOs such as K-PAX and PIAM have long been working with vulnerable communities, from victims of sex trafficking to migrants and people with disabilities. As the flows of migrant arrivals to the Italian shores increased in the early 2010s, these NGOs embarked on a shared endeavor with their respective local municipalities by joining the Italian System of Reception and Integration. Over the years, more migrant newcomers were being resettled into these towns, slowly bringing a much-needed injection of labor into these lands. The migrants started to get involved in a number of activities, including working as laborers for organic farms owned by Italian agricultural entrepreneurs. Indeed, the migrants were not the only newcomers to these shrinking areas – several young Italian agri-preneurs had also returned to the land of their grandfathers to restore their family farms. These newcomers “by choice,”[1] who moved out of the city and back to rural areas as a lifestyle migration, brought purchasing power and innovation into these shrinking spaces.

Since then, migrant laborers and Italian agri-preneurs have been engaged in an unfolding process of emplacement[2] together with long-time residents: they are creating a new place by building a network of connections and resources within the specific conditions of the shrinking areas. But how is this evolving over time?

Working together on an organic farm in Cerveno (BS) © K-PAX

Agriculture bridging cultures

At first, these two groups of newcomers faced some opposition from the long-time residents, as they embodied a set of values, practices, and cultural identities that somehow clashed with these traditionally conservative areas. How to win over the initial distrust? Organic agriculture offered an opportunity for the Italian agri-preneurs and the migrant laborers to get to know each other, toiling side-by-side in the terraced fields or weeding out mountain paths. They exchanged stories, dreams, and goals and compared agricultural practices, often learning from each other. Agriculture was bridging culture and language gaps while highlighting unexpected commonalities.  

The levels of distrust went down when they realized that working the land in Algeria or Pakistan was the same as doing it here, and actually some experiences they had were very similar. […] Farming could really be a channel that helps people get closer to the ‘Stranger’ (M., former mayor).

The long-time residents, too, began to appreciate the hard work the migrants put into restoring the landscape and revitalizing old farms by taking up manual labor that the younger local generations had moved away from. Slowly, migrants started to be seen as a resource rather than a threat, as the initial opposition gave way to a more welcoming attitude.

Tending the land in the Camonica Valley (BS) © K-PAX

Sharing benefits and burdens

Organic agriculture is hard work for everyone involved, as testified by the long hours that both agri-preneurs and migrants spend working together in the fields. However, there are significant differences when it comes to status and division of labor.

Migrants are only employed as laborers to fill a market gap for low-skilled manual labor. Caught in an endless series of short-term contracts that coincide with production peaks, they enjoy limited financial stability and virtually no upward mobility. On the other hand, Italians are returning to the fields as entrepreneurs – they own the lands and the means of production and are fully in charge of their personal, ‘sustainable’ life project.

The migrants working in organic agriculture are expected to subsume into the lifestyle of the agripreneurs and share their vision – even if they may not fully comprehend it. They may even end up living under the same roof with their employer and their family, especially if the farms are located in remote areas, to cut on commuting time.

“For small organic farms where there is a big human investment, it’s difficult to fit in. The employers are basically telling [the migrants]: ‘This is what I want to do, this is my life project, my dream’ and they are asking them to share it. But maybe a young man who crossed the sea all the way from Africa has a different goal in life.” (M., PIAM)

This set-up speaks of a concrete risk for hyper-exploitation of migrant labor, which is indeed seen as a resource, but a rather disposable one. Migrants are often described as having “less demands” than Italian workers, as they come from “desperate situations.” The lack of long-term investment in the aspirations of the individual migrants is partially mitigated by some educational initiatives launched by the NGOs, which aim to increase the migrants’ knowledge base, their contractual power, and ultimately their agency.

A silver bullet?

Organic farming remains one of the channels that may usher emplacement processes between newcomers and long-time residents in Italy’s shrinking areas. However, left to its own devices, it risks sliding into abusive mechanisms that do not sufficiently protect the best interest of the most vulnerable. NGOs and municipalities must play a guarantor role by vouching for the migrants’ skills while linking them up with ethically oriented employers. Going forward, stronger synergies and partnerships among the various actors of the system (NGOs, municipalities, agri-preneurs, and education institutions) will be crucial to foster a more ‘connected’ space for both newcomers and long-time residents in Italy’s shrinking areas.

[1] Perlik, M. & Membretti, A. (2018). Migration by Necessity and by Force to Mountain Areas: An Opportunity for Social Innovation. Mountain Research and Development. 38(3): 250–264.

[2] Glick Schiller, N. & Çağlar, A. (2013). Locating migrant pathways of economic emplacement: Thinking beyond the ethnic lens. Ethnicities. 13(4): 494–514.

Intercultural day in San Esteban de Gormaz (Spain): Creating a community of practice through social theater and a photo exhibition

On Saturday, May 28, Cepaim Foundation together with the Association of Maghrebi Women of San Esteban de Gormaz, AISHA, and in collaboration with the City Council of San Esteban, organised an intercultural day in San Esteban de Gormaz (Province of Soria, Spain), as part of the Welcoming Spaces project. The day was a way to create spaces of coexistence, generate improbable encounters and advance the path of our Community of Practice, connecting different localities across different continents through a photo exhibition and theater.

The photographic exhibition sought to make visible those objects that connect us with our roots – root us to our identity. Being aware that culture is something that accompanies us wherever we go, with this photographic tour, the AISHA Association wanted to share their cultures traditions and their identities with the rest of the village to exchange and learn from each other and construct together something new.

The exhibition reflected on who we are in order to reach new common horizons, inviting all participants to answer the question: What would you take with you if you had to leave your country?

The photographs were exhibited throughout the day and welcomed the participants to the Forum Theater “Arab Women among Cultures” that represented the company La Rueda Social Theater in the Assembly Hall of the Old Schools. Taking Welcoming Spaces as a starting point, the play was co-created by the AISHA Association and La Rueda, and reflected on the lived experiences of those living in the same locality.

This social theater, which involved the entire audience in the performance, managed to generate a debate around the situation of inclusion in the village. The theater sought to achieve mutual understanding, to eliminate negative beliefs and stereotypes, and to create a bond between all by finding common representations. In the words of one of the women of the Association: “it is very difficult to migrate and sometimes a small gesture, an attitude of incomprehension feels very big and makes our backpack heavier. With this work we wanted to try to understand how we can feel sometimes.” The play managed to generate that necessary understanding and bring the different positions closer together, reflecting together on how we could face different situations from the variety of our positions. The play ended with a round of wishes with proposals to continue building together a more welcoming village.

Both the photo exhibition and the social theater contributed to creative ways how to make visible the invisible, name and share the things that hurt us, and generate bridges that help us understand and improve when it comes to creating welcoming spaces. It started a conversation between all locals, both newcomers and long-term-residents.

Activating the migration-development link in medium and small municipalities – H2020 Joint declaration

Five ideas for getting the most out of the Italy’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan (and for a better reception of refugees)

Joint declaration of the Horizon2020 project

Welcoming Spaces and Whole-COMM

April 2022

Since 2015, there has been a redistribution of asylum seekers throughout the country, even in the most peripheral areas. Specifically, territorially and economically most disadvantaged areas of the country are often those most capable of leveraging the arrival of refugees to start rethinking the future and investing in economic, social and cultural revitalization.

Yet these promising experiences have remained substantially isolated, at best awarded formal recognition as “good practices”, in a context where the link between welcoming migrants and territorial development of marginal areas has not been placed at the centre of any real national policy.

To counter this lack of attention, the researchers involved in two ongoing projects, all funded by the European Commission’s Horizon2020 program—Welcoming Spaces and Whole-COMM—want to unite their voices to emphasise the importance of some key principles for the creation of a stable and profitable link between the integration of migrants and the development of marginal areas. To prevent territorial and social exclusion from reinforcing one other, and starting from the kind of development that also leverages cultural and environmental dimensions, we believe that the following principles should be placed at the centre of a serious program of coordinated investments and interventions, from the local level to the national and European one.

  • Produce shared imaginaries of possible futures regarding migration and development of inland areas. Migration is often narrated as a problem, a crisis to be solved, while peripheral areas are often romanticised or trivialised by traditional media. Given that narratives on migration and inner areas can influence and are influenced by policies, it is necessary to co-construct a “third imaginary” to bring out the link between migration and development, with space for cultural diversity and a clearly defined added value for territories and communities. The various welcome initiatives present in some peripheral Italian areas are already working in this sense (e.g.: photographic exhibitions and public seminars, street art contests, summer schools, collaborations with local and national newspapers, blogs, theatrical performances, documentaries, etc.).
  • Support development for the benefit of all. The development of inner areas should be considered in an integrated way, combining the dimension of socio-cultural well-being with the environmental, economic and political dimensions. From this perspective, it is necessary to take charge of the needs and aspirations of all the people who are part of the new intercultural communities present in the inner areas, in order to preserve their dynamism and development. It is essential to overcome the shared vulnerabilities of the residents. This means ensuring a good quality of life through the consolidation of local networks and social infrastructure and access to public services, housing and decent employment opportunities.
  • Support a participatory and inclusive (whole-of-community) approach to the integration of migrants and local development. The development of inner areas and the creation of positive relationships with migrants must necessarily involve the whole community, and the multiplicity of voices and organisations that characterise it: the local administration, civil society associations, businesses, individual native citizens and migrants. It is only through mutual knowledge and dialogue that it is possible to build cohesive communities of which everyone feels a part, where hospitality and integration are not a burden but a chance to imagine and build new opportunities for economic and social development.
  • Think about local development and the integration of migrants starting from the relationship between rural and urban areas. Local development and the inclusion of newcomers in peripheral areas cannot be thought of as isolated and impermeable to the dynamics of urban centres, which represent relevant poles of the labour market and services. The relationships between urban and rural areas consist of material and immaterial flows: people, economic resources, information, skills and practices are all elements that make up this relationship. An example of this is the food chain, where many migrants are employed and where the dynamics of large-scale distribution often generate negative effects on producers and workers, as well as on the environment. The joint strategic planning between rural and mountain areas of these flows is therefore indispensable to guarantee spatial and social justice and to promote sustainable development.
  • Establish decision-making bodies that connect the different levels of government and also involve medium and small municipalities. The smaller municipalities are often excluded from decision-making processes which nevertheless have a decisive impact on their territories. Interventions capable of supporting local development and the integration of migrants in major urban centres may be unsuitable for rural and mountain contexts, characterised by different needs and resources. At the same time, Regional and central governments, even if they want to, do not have effective tools at their disposal to keep in touch with these areas and closely follow their transformations. It is therefore essential to develop stable institutional mechanisms that allow for continuous, and not just occasional, exchange between levels of government and facilitate the involvement of smaller municipalities.

These could become inspiring principles for an adjustment of the Italy’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan, which so far has underestimated the very real danger of ethnic and territorial disadvantages reinforcing each other. By putting these principles into practice, it may be possible to counter the risk of proposing standard solutions in the face of very heterogeneous paths of both the territories and the migrants, or the danger of draining funds through calls for projects that fails to connect individual initiatives to an organic, medium-long term strategic planning framework. With an eye to the immediate horizon, these same principles could guide us in managing the arrival of Ukrainian refugees, so that reception becomes a tool for pursuing lasting processes of economic, social and institutional innovation.

WS public event Friday 6 May 2022, 10.30-13.00 (Torino, Italy) The migration-development nexus in European areas

FIERI and Collegio Carlo Alberto Foundation are pleased to announce the conference “The Migration-development nexus in European inner areas: Shaping strategies around the post-pandemic investments and plans” organised in the framework of the Weloming Spaces project, which will be held on Friday 6th May 2022 from 10.30 am to 1 pm at Collegio Carlo Alberto Foundation (Piazza Arbarello 8, Torino).

Languages: Italian/English, simultaneous translation available

To register for the event in person please sign up HERE.

To register for the online event please sign up HERE.

In Italy, as in the rest of Europe, inner areas and migrants risk to be among the losers of our societies. Several inner areas have been facing a demographic and economic decline as well as a social closure expressed through negative attitudes towards newcomers and anti-diversity voting patterns. At the same time, a remarkable rise of unemployment and poverty and an upsurge of nationalistic attitudes have been hitting a large share of migrants. Can these two potential losers become allies and foster
mutual improvement by refreshing languishing local economies and societies with diversity-triggered and inclusive innovation? For this purpose, the Italy’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan and the European Commission’s long-term Rural Vision may be powerful weapons but much depends on how they address and actually implement the migration-development nexus of inner areas.

In order to answer those questions and starting from the assumption that inner areas are highly diverse, the event addresses processes and tools rather than prêt-à-porter solutions. Moreover, it connects the still rather separated research and policy communities dealing with migration and inner areas, and brings together scholars, local innovative practitioners and high-level public officials with the aim of blending visions and expertise into a fresh strategic thinking.


10.30-10.45 Opening
Ferruccio Pastore (FIERI)
Paolo Ghirardato (Collegio Carlo Alberto Foundation)
Annelies Zoomers (University of Utrecht)
Representative of the Compagnia di San Paolo Foundation

10.45-11.15 Key messages from ongoing Horizon2020 projects
What can research offer to policy formulation and implementation? What are the musts and must-nots for policies addressing migrant integration and local development in inner areas? And for Italian policies in

Chair: Irene Ponzo (FIERI)
Pierluigi Musarò. Welcoming Spaces Project (Univeristy of Bologna Alma Mater)
Tiziana Caponio, Whole-COMM Project, (Collegio Carlo Alberto Foundation, University of Torino, FIERI)
Andrea Membretti, MATILDE Project, (University of Eastern Finland)

11.15-12.45 Roundtable “Methods and approaches towards the migration-development nexus”
What are the processes and approaches that can turn internal and international mobility into a factor of cultural, social and economic renewal of inner areas? When does the mobility-development nexus fail and when
does it succeed? What are the tools and methods to involve the local community and newcomers in shaping cultural social and economic development? How can municipalities of inner areas coordinate their action and connect with higher-level institutions? How can social innovation blossoming in remote areas scale up and turn into structural measures? How can Italy’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan and EU programmes addressing rural areas enhance the migration-development nexus? What tools do they offer? What are the risks at implementation level and what can we do to prevent them? What is the balance between inclusion and selection of inner areas targeted by those programmes?

Chair: Eduardo Barberis, University of Urbino
Daniela Luisi (Riabitare l’Italia)
Carlo Cominelli (K-Pax social cooperative, Breno, Lombardy)
Rosario Zurzolo (Jungi Mundu social cooperative, Camini, Calabria)
Matteo Biffoni (ANCI – National Association of Italian Municipalities)
Tatiana Esposito (Ministry of Labour and Social policies)
Matyas Szabo (Europan Commission, The long-term Rural Vision)

12.45-13.00 Concluding remarks
Filippo Barbera (Collegio Carlo Alberto Foundation, University of Torino, Riabitare l’Italia)


Migration and migrants in the EU

Changing narratives – modifying practices – influencing policies

Under the auspicious title CO-DESIGNING AN INCLUSIVE EUROPE. Migration and migrants in the EU: Changing narratives – modifying practices – influencing policies, on March 1st 2022, coordinators and researchers of ten EU 2020 Horizon funded projects gathered together in the heart of EU quarters in Brussels to share findings, exchange experience among the participants, discuss with MEPs and EU officials, and to make policy recommendations based on diverse study approaches.

The event was an opportunity to inform the European decision-makers, in an applicable, pragmatic way, about the findings and challenges of H2020 projects related to refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. The multi-dimensional and interdisciplinary approach of the projects made us learn from our colleagues and share our findings from a learning-community perspective, being able to overcome the traps of disciplinary silos and methodological fragmentations, and especially overcoming the binary categories, such as temporary/permanent, legal/illegal, forced/voluntary migration. Rather, the focus was placed on the complexity approach to migration, such as structure and agency, narratives, policies and governance.

It was history-making the fact that ten EU-financed projects focused on migration came together for the first time. This event aimed at offering an opportunity to engage with various researchers and practitioners from 34 countries including 21 EU countries, representing a total of 135 institutions. It was also an excellent occasion to establish a fruitful research network whereas we had the chance to meet each other and become acquainted with the work we all do on closely related topics. Certainly, the prospect of this initiative will lead us into future collaborations, preferably with the formation of a formal network. The seed has been sown.

Check out the reflections of the day by our team member José Ricardo Martins (University of Siegen).

Special thanks to Lili Nottrott and Anamaria Dutceac Segesten for the magnificent organisation and moderation of the event.