(Re)Conceptualising stateless diasporas in the EU

Project description

This project explored the extent to which members of three ‘stateless diasporas’ (Kurds, Palestinians and Roma) negotiate, mobilize and/or resist, and ultimately problematize notions of shared belonging in the EU. Through multi-sited qualitative research, the project investigated the processes through which both statelessness and diasporic identity and identification are constructed, adopted and/or rejected by Kurdish, Palestinian and Roma individuals and families in France, Sweden, Italy and the UK. In particular, the research analysed the ways in which Kurds, Palestinians and Roma who hold a wide range of legal statuses in the EU conceptualise connections with other members of 'their' communities across time and space, and socio-political commitments to 'their' respective homelands. The project included two closely related research components:

  • (Re)Conceptualising 'stateless diasporas': intersections between individual and collective statelessness amongst Palestinians and Kurds in Sweden, France, Italy and the UK, led by Dr Elena Fiddian Qasmiyeh, Oxford Department of International Development, University of Oxford
  • Migration regimes, models of citizenship and experiences of statelessness amongst Roma in Italy and the UK led by Dr Nando Sigona, Institute for Research into Superdiversity, University of Birmingham (formerly at the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford)

Key research questions

These research components are guided by the following research questions:

  1. How do stateless migrant communities resident in the EU (Kurds, Palestinians and Roma) interact with immigration and citizenship regimes?
  2. What settlement strategies and tactics do they adopt in response to their legal and political statuses in the EU?
  3. How is statelessness constructed and experienced at individual and collective levels? How do these constructions intersect with immigration and citizenship regimes?
  4. How does legal status impact on modes of transnational engagement and mobilization?


Research was conducted with Palestinian, Kurdish, and Roma diasporic communities in four EU member states, including through in-depth qualitative interviews with community members and organizations, and participant observation in community activities and events. Reflecting the internal and cross-heterogeneity of these diasporic constellations, interviewees purposively included adult males and females, originate from a diversity of ‘home’ contexts, hold a range of legal statuses, and come from across the political and ideological spectrum.

Concurrently, interviews were conducted with policy makers and key immigration agencies in France, Sweden, Italy and the UK. The overarching analysis investigated the intersection between policy developments in immigration, asylum and citizenship regimes, migrants’ identification and settlement strategies, and the extent to which the presence of these communities has contributed to policy debates and change.

Sufi Zikr in a Roma encampment, Italy 2014. Photograph:Nando Sigona

Project lead

Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, UCL (formerly International Migration Institute)

Other researcher

Nando Sigona, University of Birmingham (formerly at the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford)

Barzoo Eliassi, Linnaeus University (formerly International Migration Institute)

Nell Gabiam, Iowa State University 

Project-related outputs

> Journal articles
> Book chapters
> Presentations
> Workshops, seminar series & conferences
> Media Contributions