To change the discourse about migration, migration has to come closer to people.
Culture is fundamental in this sense.
GIULIA RaimOndo, PhD candidate in International Law
The Graduate Institute
Giulia Raimondo worked as a research assistant for the Global Migration Centre on many projects with a focus on international migration law. She is currently ending her PhD focusing on the international responsibility of the EU and its member states for potential human rights violations during their border control practices.
What is your current research topic and what are its key points?
In particular, I am interested in the role played by Frontex, the European Border and coast Guard Agency, in shaping these practices. Frontex coordinates member states’ border control authorities and plays a pivotal role in implementing a system of “integrated border management” among them. The cooperation between the agency and the member states involves a certain level of legal uncertainty, not only regarding the scope of their respective obligations, but also regarding their international responsibilities. In my research, I shed some light into these uncertainties, and I try to unravel the knot of actors, competencies and international obligations to uncover who is responsible for what in the context of Frontex’s activities.
If you could change one thing in global migration governance, what would that be?
If I had a magic wand, among the many things one could adjust, I would change the common assumption underlying many policy choices that we all have equal chances in our lives, as we are all born equal. Migration governance is not just about migration and mobility of people, it is also about the underlying inequalities that lead many people to move. Abusive border control policies and inadequate legal protection exacerbate the situation of vulnerability of many migrants. But migration governance can also positively impact the inequalities that we see growing in our global society. Besides, the political and social conditions of migrants in receiving countries often result in their exclusion on multiple fronts. For example, migrants are often (although not always) prevented from participating in many political discussions in their countries of destination. Change is slowly happening. But if my magic wand would still allow, I would try to accelerate the process leading to more migrant political and social participation in receiving societies.
In your opinion, what can be done in order to normalize migration? Is it possible to change the perception of migration and how?
I am profoundly convinced that education has a great role to play when it comes to the current (mis)perceptions about migration and migrants’ experiences. More generally, I think that to change the discourse about migration, migration has to come closer to people. Culture is fundamental in this sense. Art, literature, movies, theater, documentaries, radio shows… all these forms of cultural expression put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and restore empathy. This should not remain academic or intellectual speculation. In a sense, migrants’ stories should thrive in popular culture, beyond closed circles. Yet, without real political action, empathy risks becoming a pure contemplative exercise. In sum, we need both culture and politics to really see a change in how migration is understood, and hopefully experienced.
What keeps you passionate and motivated about your work in the field?
I started my PhD studies driven by some abstract questions about border controls and migrant rights’. As my PhD journey continued, I kept being motivated by the conviction that if we want to see any change in the status quo, we need to study and contemplate quite a lot to take any useful individual action. This motivation was certainly nourished by my experience at the GMC. Not only I had the opportunity to assist to many initiatives devoted to better understand migration and improve its governance, but I also shared my interest with many colleagues and friends that inspired me on so many levels. Today, my motivation comes from two women in my family. My grandmother, who was one of the Italian children saved from hunger and violence of World War II by Swiss families. And my daughter, who was born in the same country that saved my grandmother, during an equally challenging time.