Dr Gaja Maestri

Postdoctoral Research Associate
MSc (LSE), PhD (Durham)

Email: g.maestri@leicester.ac.uk
Web page: leicester.academia.edu/GajaMaestri

Personal details

I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate on the ESRC-funded project “The Frames of Altruistic Action”.

I hold a PhD in Geography at Durham University (UK), where I was also teaching assistant for the courses of political geography, social research and urban geography. Prior to my doctoral studies, I obtained a PGCE in Geography from Durham University (2013), an MSc in Political Sociology from the London School of Economics and Political Sciences (2011) and a BA in Sociology and MA in Sociology and Social Research both from the University of Trento (Italy). I also worked in London for Demos and The Runnymede Trust, and interned at the Institute of Race Relations. After completing my PhD, I worked as a Research Assistant on the research project “Post-Brexit Futures” funded by the Leverhulme Trust and led by Prof. Ben Anderson at Durham University, during which I carried out in-depth interviews on people’s perception and feelings about Brexit.

My PhD research (“Persistently Temporary. Ambiguity and Political Mobilisations in Italy’s Roma camps: a Comparative Perspective”) was funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council and focused on the persistence of the housing segregation of the Roma people and Algerian migrants in in Rome and Paris. The thesis analysed the reasons for the persistence of racial segregation and the strategies adopted by solidarity associations and movements to advocate the housing rights of ethnic minorities.

During my PhD I spent research visiting periods in Paris at the Housing Research Centre (ENSA Paris-Val de Seine) (from January to April 2013) and at the École des hautes études en science sociales (from April to July 2013). From May to July 2015 I was invited visiting fellow at the Centre d'études éuropéennes at Sciences Po, Paris.

Research interests

My research situates at the intersection of political sociology and urban geography, and it is mainly characterised by a comparative approach. The main research areas I focus on are:

-          Political mobilisation, non-state actors and citizenship: political contention, NGOs, solidarity and civil society organisations, social movements;

-          Governance of urban marginality: ethnic minorities and migration, social and housing inclusion programmes, emergency housing;

-          Urban housing informality and segregation: camps, informal settlements, territorial stigmatisation.

Current research projects

  • The Frames of Altruistic Action

This project aims to question current debates on the “migration crisis” and how ideas of hospitality, altruism, solidarity, care, or compassion are constructed and enacted. Through the focus on volunteers involved in charities and networks active in the pro-asylum sector, we aim to analyse how individuals reflect upon their engagement processes and define the practices, values and ethos that relate to their collective action. The project is based on a comparative approach and on qualitative research methods: we will analyse volunteers’ reflection about their engagement in two contrasted settings (France and the United Kingdom).

Research team: Pierre Monforte (PI), Estelle D'Halluin (Université de Nantes, Co-I)

Duration: January 2017-December 2019

Funder: Economic and Social Research Council (ES/N015274/1), £410K.

Website: https://altruism.hypotheses.org


Edited special issues

Maestri, G. and Hughes S. (forthcoming) “Guest Editors' Introduction. Contested Spaces of Citizenship: Camps, Borders and Urban Encounters”, Citizenship Studies. 21(8).

Journal articles

Maestri, G. (forthcoming) “Struggles and ambiguities over political subjectivities in the camp: Roma camp dwellers between neoliberal and urban citizenship in Italy”, Citizenship Studies. 21(8).

Maestri, G. (2017) Are they Nomads, Travellers or Roma? An Analysis of the Multiple Effects of Naming Assemblages. Area, 49(1), pp. 18–24

Maestri, G. (2014) The Economic Crisis as Opportunity: How Austerity Generates New Strategies and Solidarities for Negotiating Roma Access to Housing in Rome. City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action, 18(6), pp. 808–823.

Book Chapters

Maestri, G. and Vitale T. (2017) A sociology of the camps' persisting architecture. Why did Rome not put an end to expensive ethnic housing policies?. In: M. Mendes, T. Sá and J. Cabral, eds., Architecture and the Social Sciences. Inter- and Multidisciplinary Approaches between Society and Space. New York: Springer. pp. 197–218

Maestri, G. (forthcoming 2017) Extensive territorial stigma and ways of coping with it: the stigmatisation of the Roma in Italy and France. In: P. Kirkness and A. Tijé-Dra, eds., Negative Neighbourhood Reputation and Place Attachment: The Production and Contestation of Territorial Stigma. Avebury: Ashgate.

Maestri, G. (2016) From nomads to squatters: towards a deterritorialisation of Roma exceptionalism through assemblage thinking. In: M. Lancione, ed., Rethinking Life at the Margins: The Assemblage of Contexts, Subjects and Politics. London: Routledge. pp. 227–249.

Book Reviews

Maestri, G. (2016) “Rights, Deportation, and Detention in the Age of Immigration Control, by Tom K. Wong”, International Migration Review, 50(4), pp. e62–e63

Maestri, G. (2016) “Spreading Protests. Social Movements in Times of Crisis – Edited By Donatella della Porta and Alice Mattoni”, Political Studies Review, 14(1), p.96.

Maestri, G. (2015) “Injustice: Why social inequality persists, by Danny Dorling”, LSE Review of Book.

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School of Media, Communication and Sociology

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Research degrees (campus-based and distance learning courses)
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