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Luigi Achilli

Marie Sklodowska Curie Fellows

Email: Luigi.Achilli@eui.eu




Biographical Notes

Luigi Achilli is currently Marie Curie Fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advance Studies (RSCAS) at the European University Institute (EUI) and at the Department of Sociology at the San Diego State University. He holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in political anthropology from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). Before coming to the EUI, he taught at Cambridge, SOAS, and various universities in the Middle East and Europe.

His research and writing focus on irregular migration and smuggling networks, refugee studies, political engagement and nationalism in the Middle East, and the Palestinian issue. Ethnographic in approach, his work is based on extensive field research in the in the Middle East, the Eastern Mediterranean countries, Central America, and along the US-Mexico Border. Luigi is now working on a comparative study of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Central American smuggling corridors. In 2017, he has been awarded with a Marie Curie Global Fellowship for his project ‘MAPS – Migrants and People Smugglers’.

Luigi’s work futures in a variety of outlets. His publications include several among refereed journals, chapters in collective volumes, co-edited volumes, and monographs. He has also written regularly for the press, blogs, and online magazines. His previous research on refugees and refugee camps in the Middle East has culminated with the publication of a monograph about the significance of the ‘ordinary’ in the process of political self-fashioning in Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan – Palestinian Refugees and Identity: Nationalism, Politics and the Everyday (I.B. Tauris, 2015). His most recent publications on the topic include a special issue for the ANNALS – ‘Human Smugglers as an Insurance Policy: Views from the Margins‘ (ANNALS, 2018), co-edited with S. Zhang and G. Sanchez. Luigi is currently co-editing the III edition of Global Human Smuggling with D. Kyle for the John Hopkins University Press (forthcoming, 2019).

Luigi acted as consultant and expert for a variety of organisations, including (but not limited to) UNODC, the Council of Europe, Columbia University, DGHOME, UNHCR, Save the Children, and other NGOs.

Research Project

Marie Curie Project: MAPS – Migrants And People Smugglers: To what extent is human smuggling a criminal enterprise driven by solidarity and cooperation? This is the question that my Marie Curie project addresses through a comparative study – of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Central American smuggling corridors. Having almost concluded my research in the Eastern Mediterranean corridor, the project will concentrate almost exclusively on the Central American route in order to identify similarities and differences in the organisational structures of smuggling networks, the smuggler-migrant relationship, and the profile of the facilitators. MAPS seeks to make a contribution to studies on Human Smuggling and Irregular Migration, where there is a keen interest in – yet still insufficient knowledge about – the interaction between migrants and facilitators and where criminological perspectives still dominate the debate. MAPS adopts a critical perspective and departs from the idea that smugglers obey only to a profit making logic. Inviting instead for a more complex understanding of their roles, it argues that human smuggling is embedded within ethnic networks and local economies, which are grounded on deep notions of solidarity and reciprocity. By expanding current knowledge around smuggling and its related policies, the project also aims to provide an empirical platform for policy engagement.

Publications (Selected)

Books & Volumes

  • Achilli, L. Kyle, D. 2019, Global Human Smuggling, John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore & London (forthcoming)
  • Achilli, L. 2015, Palestinian Refugees and Identity: Nationalism, Politics and the Everyday, I.B.Tauris, London
  • Achilli, L. & De Lauri, A. 2008, Pratiche e politiche dell’etnografia, Meltemi, Milan

Journal Special Issues 

  • Achilli, L. & Sanchez, G. When Smuggling Goes Wrong: From a Crime Against State Sovereignty to a Crime Against Persons. UNODC 2018
  • Achilli, L. Sanchez, G. & Zhang, S. 2018, Human Smugglers as an Insurance Policy: Views from the Margins, The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
  • Achilli, L. & Oesch, L. 2017, Les camps de réfugiés palestiniens au Proche-Orient: un provisoire qui dure, Special Issue, A-Contrario 2006/2 (23)

Articles in Journals and Volumes

  • Achilli, L. 2018, ‘Waiting for the smuggler: tales across the border’, Public Anthropologist (forthcoming)
  • Achilli, L. 2018, ‘Palestinian refugees in Jordan twenty years after the Oslo agreement’, in Turner, M. (ed.) ‘From the River to the Sea: Disintegration, Reintegration and Domination in Israel and Palestine’, Routledge, New York (forthcoming).
  • Achilli, L. 2017, ‘The ‘good smuggler’: the ethics and morals of human smuggling among Syrians’, the ANNALS, 676: 77-96
  • Achilli, L. Zhang, S. Sanchez, G. 2018. ‘Introduction’, Crimes of Solidarity in Mobility: Alternative Views on Migrant Smuggling. ANNALS, 676 (1): 6-15.
  • Achilli, L. 2017, ‘Smuggling and trafficking in human beings at the time of the Syrian conflict’, in Gebrewold, B. et al. (eds) Human Trafficking and Exploitation: Lessons from Europe, Routledge: New York
  • Achilli, L. 2018, ‘In search of dignity: political economy and nationalism amongst Palestinian camp dwellers in Amman’, Journal of Ethnographic Theory (HAU), special issue
  • Achilli, L. & Sanchez, G. 2017, ‘Methodological approaches in human smuggling research: Documenting irregular migration facilitation in the Americas and the Middle East’, Migration Policy Practice 8, 2, 21-25
  • Achilli, L. 2017, ‘Neighbouring Host-Countries’ Policies for Syrian Refugees: The Cases of Jordan’, IEMED
  • Achilli, L. 2016, ‘Irregular migration to EU and human smuggling in the Mediterranean: the nexus between organized crime and irregular migration’, Mobility and refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, IEMED
  • Achilli, L. 2016 ‘Back to Syria? Conflicting patterns of mobility among Syrian refugees in Jordan’, Orient I
  • Achilli, L. 2016 ‘Becoming a Man in al-Wihdat: Masculine Performances in a Palestinian Refugee Camp in Jordan’, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 47, 2, 263-280
  • Achilli, L. & Abu Samra, M. 2015 ‘La Primavera Araba in Giordania: una lieve brezza o il preludio alla tempesta perfetta’, in M. Omizzolo, P. Sodano (eds), Migranti e Territori, Ediesse, 371-398
  • Achilli, L. 2014, ‘Disengagement from politics: Nationalism, political identity, and the everyday in a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan’, Critique of Anthropology, 34, 2, 234–257
  • Achilli, L. 2014, ‘Etiqueter dans un espace incertain: le cas des camps de réfugiés palestiniens en Jordanie’, Migrations Société, 22, 128, 118-128

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