Migration regimes, models of citizenship and experiences of statelessness amongst Roma in Italy and the UK

Researcher: Dr Nando Sigona

Dr Nando Sigona, Birmingham FellowDonor: Oxford Diasporas Programme/Leverhulme Trust

Date(s): 2012-2014


This project aims to contribute to the emergence of a sociology of statelessness that explores contemporary manifestations and experiences of statelessness, both individually and collectively. It investigates in particular how members of a ‘stateless diaspora’ negotiate, mobilise and/or resist, and ultimately problematise, notions of shared belonging in the EU. Against the background of fluid, and at times conflicting, EU and EU member states' immigration and citizenship regimes, the study will examine ‘emic’ and ‘etic’ discourses in relation to the categorisation of Roma people as ‘stateless diasporas’. Through an in-depth qualitative analysis, the project will investigate the processes through which both statelessness and diasporic identity and identification are constructed, adopted and/or rejected by individuals and states.

Key research questions

The main aim of this project is to investigate comparatively the ways in which Romani communities living in Italy and the UK are impacted upon by immigration and citizenship regimes in two EU member states, focusing in particular on individual and family experiences and settlement strategies, transnational engagement and diverse modes of mobilisation in the country of residence. In addition, this project also provides a timely analysis of the emergence and institutionalization of statelessness in the EU and the ways this process impacts ‘stateless’ people on the ground.


To date, presentations, publications and seminar series related to this project include the following: 

  • ‘Stateless Diasporas and immigration and citizenship regimes in the EU’, presented by Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh and Nando Sigona at the Refugee Studies Centre Public Seminar Series, Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford University, October 2011.
  • Seminar series on ‘Stateless Diaspora and Forced Migration’ exploring contemporary statelessness in international and national arenas, hosted by the Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford, October-December 2011. Podcasts available here: http://www.forcedmigration.org/podcasts-videos-photos/podcasts/rsc-public-seminars-2011-michaelmas-term.
  • Sigona, N. and Vermeersch, P. (eds.) 2012, 'Romani mobilities in Europe', Special Issue of Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. 
  • Sigona, N. (2011) 'The governance of Romani people in Italy: discourse, policy and practice', Journal of Modern Italian Studies, Vol. 16 No. 5. Available from Taylor & Francis Online.
  • Sigona, N. (2014 forthcoming) ‘Campzenship: rethinking the camp as a political space’, Citizenship Studies.


This project is one of two closely related studies which aim to (re)conceptualise 'stateless diasporas' in the EU. The second project is led by Dr Elena Fiddian Qasmiyeh (University of Oxford) and examines (Re)Conceptualising 'stateless diasporas' in the EU: intersections between individual and collective statelessness amongst Palestinians and Kurds in Sweden, France, Italy and the UK: http://www.rsc.ox.ac.uk/research/governance/stateless-diasporas

They are part of a broader inter-disciplinary five-year research programme, the Oxford Diasporas Programme (ODP), generously funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The ODP programme is led by Professor Robin Cohen at the Oxford Department of International Development and draws together, amongst others, researchers from the International Migration Institute (IMI), the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) and the Refugee Studies Centre. More information is available at the Oxford Diasporas Programme website (www.migration.ox.ac.uk/odp) .