Elisa Sperandio

Ph.D. Student

I am a PhD candidate in the School of Geography, Development and Environment. Prior to moving to Tucson, I completed a master’s degree in geography at the University of Kentucky, with a thesis focused on the borderwork carried out by the residents of the island of Lampedusa, in the Mediterranean. 

My work is at the intersection of political geography, migration studies, and social theory. My research interests include migrant housing, grassroots solidarity, border enforcement in the European Union, and processes of citizenship formation. 

My dissertation project is funded through the International Dissertation Research Fellowship (2021 cohort) by the Social Sciences Research Council. The project focuses on the Italian system of accoglienza diffusa, which enlists the collaboration of municipalities, non-profits, the private sector, and residents to coordinate the housing and integration of migrants. This ethnographic research compares experiences of, and approaches to, migrant reception in Bologna and Torino, two Italian cities that have historically shown a commitment to implementing and innovating programs of accoglienza diffusa. The project sees modes of migrant reception as evolving and relational, grounded in the specific needs, resources, and priorities of a given geography and its citizenry. Through this situated approach, my work traces how novel practices of reception such as private hospitality (also known as family hosting and home-sharing) and initiatives of housing mediation aimed at supporting the social inclusion of migrants within their new neighborhoods take shape and evolve in Bologna and Torino. 


Sperandio, E., & Marston, S. A. (2022). Making space for citizenship. Political Geography, 92, 102483.