Lorenzo Piccoli graduated in 2018 from the European University Institute (EUI) with a PhD in Social and Political Sciences. After working for three years as a Research Associate at the Global Citizenship Observatory (GLOBALCIT), he recently joined the Migration Policy Centre (MPC) as a Research Fellow. Piccoli sat down for a brief interview to discuss the switch and talk about his current research projects.
On the surface, citizenship and migration appear to be two distinct research areas. Do they overlap in any way?
We tend to think of citizenship and migration as perhaps the same thing. I see them as complimentary. For example, at the Schuman Centre, the MPC focuses on the dynamics of why people move and how governments shape those movements, while GLOBALCIT looks at the situations that arise and rights people have access to once they move to a certain place. In that sense, there is a continuity between the research of the two programmes and it strengthens how they work in tandem. While the two centres have only existed for a little more than a decade, in that time they have done so much in terms of producing very meaningful research and creating some of the most important events and activities in the field such as the MPC Summer School and the GLOBALCIT Annual Conference.
Can you discuss your research at GLOBALCIT? How did you end up switching from citizenship to migration?
After my PhD, I split my time between collaborating with GLOBALCIT and coordinating the scientific activities of ‘nccr – On the Move’, a network of eleven Swiss universities working together on migration and mobility. Together with Jelena Dzankic, I help lead a joint GLOBALCIT and nccr project called ‘Citizenship, Migration and Mobility in a Pandemic' that aims to connect research on citizenship and migration. The project lays the foundation to ask, “Why do governments make different choices as to whose mobility is considered essential in times of emergencies?” This question intrigues me and I hope to answer it during my time at the MPC.
I am driven by the construction of communities and the interaction of people, and it is part of the reason why I am now coming back to the EUI. I will be working between the MPC and the School of Transnational Governance (STG) on the provision of executive trainings for policy makers to help develop and organise their research agenda. I am excited to start, as I think the students are extremely motivated and want to be active learners and shape their community. The STG and the EUI are places where people are not just there to take the courses, but actually want to take an active role in the global discussion on these issues.
What first drew you to the EUI?
At the time I was considering getting my PhD, the EUI was described to me as one of, if not the best institutions where to obtain a PhD in Europe, and so I decided to apply. I did my PhD with Professor Rainer Bauböck comparing the provisions and policies of different countries, predominantly Italy, Spain and Switzerland, in giving undocumented migrants access to public. However, my research agenda has evolved. In the last couple of years, I became interested in the regulation of human movement, which focuses on the possibilities for people to move around rather than on public health regulations.
I am extremely excited to be back. The EUI is a fast moving train. It is a community that is growing very fast and has some of the best researchers to work with.
What are you looking forward to in the future?
It is a cliché but I think the EUI is one of the best places to learn, you learn of course as PhD, but you keep on learning as a research fellow, and I think now I can learn a lot from the students, from the professors and from other colleagues and staff at the institute… I like to think of science as a collaborative enterprise, and I think the EUI is the one place where you can do that collaborative work. I find the process exciting and it is a privilege to be a part of it.