School of Geography

Dr Marcia Vera Espinoza


Lecturer in Human Geography

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 2751
Room Number: Geography Building, Room 219



I joined the School of Geography in September 2018. My research and teaching seat at the intersection of development, political and social geography, with a focus on migration and Latin America. I am particularly interested in the study of migration and refugee dynamics, experiences and governance in Latin America, as well as in other regions of the global South. I am currently expanding my work into the geographies of integration in South America. I completed my BA at the University of Chile, followed by an MA in International Studies and a PhD, based in Geography, at the University of Sheffield.

I am also an associate researcher in the project ´Prospects for International Migration Governance´ (MIGPROSP). Previously, I have taught and researched at the University of Sheffield (2015-2018).

My work has focused on three main themes, explored through a qualitative driven mixed methods approach:

Refugee Resettlement: My doctoral research explored the experiences of a group of Colombian and Palestinian refugees resettled in Chile and Brazil. The research provided a timely assessment of resettlement in this two emergent host countries and also a relevant insight into the experiences of two resettled refugees, one coming from inside and one from outside the region. The research findings also explored the politics and governance of resettlement.

Unsettlement, translocality and citizenship: The findings of the research above also showed how refugees from both communities experienced unsettlement, by which the radical uncertainties that framed their displacement extended and normalised in the resettlement country. This unsettlement marked their experiences of integration, also shaped by translocality and their constant negotiation of citizenship.

Migration governance: As part of the MIGPROSP project I have gathered qualitative data through more than 100 interviews conducted in eight countries across four world regions (Europe, North America, South America and Asia-Pacific), in order to explore how key individuals within migration systems understand international migration and how these perceptions shape migration governance. Our edited book The Dynamics of Regional Migration Governance (Edward Elgar) will be published at the beginning of 2019.

Recent publications:


My teaching places students as main actors of their learning experience. They are encouraged to develop critical thinking while they take the lead in constructing scenarios that allow them to ground ideas, theoretical frameworks and methodologies to praxis. I value and recognize students’ professional and personal experiences as pivotal in developing their knowledge and independence of thought. In my modules, I encourage active participation, reflexive practices and the development of various academic and professional skills. My research-led teaching aims to foster critical thinking around the complexities and multiple-levels and actors involved in migration. I have over five years of experience teaching on migration, asylum, development and research methods.

In 2018-2019 I will teach on the following modules:


  • GEG5128 Spaces of Uneven Development (convenor)
  • GEG4004 Research Methods for Geographers and Environmental Scientists (contributor)
  • GEG6120 Development Futures: Mumbai Unbound (contributor)
  • GEG5103 Geographical Research in Practice (contributor)


  • GEG7132 Re-theorizing Development Futures (contributor)
  • GEG7120 Geographical Ideas and Practice (contributor)

External teaching:


Research Interests:

My current research is split in three projects:

  1. Geographies of migrant and refugee integration in South America
    I am currently working in a research proposal aimed to increase our understanding of migrant and refugee integration in three South American countries. The region has experienced a sharp increased of intra-regional migration, particularly the current displacement of Venezuelans as well as the migration from Haitians, among others. While we have a good understanding of the drivers and characteristics of these migration dynamics, we know less about how migrants’ and refugees’ integration is understood, experienced and governed in the countries of the region. This project will contribute to cover that gap by exploring theoretically and empirically the geographies of integration in South America.

  2. Refugee Resettlement in Latin America
    This research explores the experiences of resettlement of a group of Palestinian and Colombian refugees in Chile and Brazil. The study reviews refugee resettlement as a durable solution in Latin American countries, while exploring the daily experiences of resettled refugees. Through extensive qualitative-driven mixed-methods research with two communities in two countries, the research explores some of the multiple scales, dimensions and spaces where the resettlement experience unfolds. The findings of the research revealed that the integration of resettled refugees in Chile and Brazil involves a constant (re)negotiation of access, identities and agency, within a context of social and structural constraints. Within the context of this research, I keep analysing the development of resettlement in emergent host countries as well as other complementary refugee protection solutions in Latin America.

    This research has been funded by CONICYT, as well as with fieldwork grants by SLAS, SIID and RGS-IBG Slawson Award.

  3. Migration Governance
    As part of my work in the ERC funded project ‘Prospects for International Migration Governance’ led by Professor Andrew Geddes, I have been exploring how decision makers in South America, as well as in other regions, make sense of international migration and how these understandings shape or affect institutional responses. By doing so, we are developing our insight into the drivers of migration governance.

In 2014 I was awarded one of eight SIID-ESRC fellowships to be part of the project Latin American Perspectives on the Post-2015 Development Agenda that aimed to identify the main priorities, barriers and opportunities that the SDGs agenda represented for the region. Previously, I was research assistant in the ID100 project, a participatory exercise that contributed to the discussion on the post-2015 development agenda through the identification of 100 key questions in international development.


Edited Volumes

Peer reviewed journal articles

Peer reviewed chapters in edited volumes

  • Geddes A. and Vera Espinoza, M. (2018) Framing Understandings of International Migration: How Governance Actors Make Sense of Migration in Europe and South America. In Margheritis, A. (Ed), Shaping Migration between Europe and Latin America. New Approaches and Challenges. London: ILAS publications.
  • Vera Espinoza, M. (2018) The Politics of Resettlement: Expectations and unfulfilled promises in Chile and Brazil. In Garnier, A, Lyra Jubilut, L. and Bergtora Sandvik, K. (Eds), Refugee Resettlement: Power, Politics and Humanitarian Governance. New York: Berghahn Books.
  • Brumat, L., Acosta, D., and Vera Espinoza, M., (2018) Gobernanza migratoria en América del Sur: ¿hacia una nueva oleada restrictiva? in Lincoln Bizzozero Revelez and Wilson Fernández Luzuriaga (eds) Anuario de Política Internacional y Política Exterior 2017- 2018: “One Belt, one road” Alcances y repercusiones de la propuesta China en un entorno de proteccionismos y retracción de Occidente. Ediciones Cruz del Sur. pp 205-211. ISSN: 2393-6924
  • Vera Espinoza, M. (forthcoming, 2019) Between depoliticisation and path dependence: The role of Mexico in Regional Migration Governance in North America in Geddes, A., Vera Espinoza, M., Hadj-Abdou, L. & Brumat, L. (eds), The Dynamics of Regional Migration Governance, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Working papers

  • Oldekop, J., Fontana, L., Grugel, J., Roughton, N., Adu, E.A., Bird, G., Wallin, S., Dorgan, A., Vera Espinoza, M., Hammett, D., et al. (2015) ‘Hundred Key Research Questions in International Development’, UNRISD/SIID working paper, January 2015.
  • Lagos, C., Matus, A., & Vera, M. (2005) Organizaciones Sociales en Chile Invisibles a los Medios. ICEI Cuadernos. Santiago, Chile: Centro de Estudios de la Comunicación, Instituto de la Comunicación e Imagen.
  • Rodríguez R. and Vera M. (2005) 4 Cuadras a la Redonda. Diagnóstico y perspectivas de las radios comunitarias de la Región Metropolitana. ICEI Cuadernos. Santiago, Chile: Centro de Estudios de la Comunicación, Instituto de la Comunicación e Imagen.

Other articles, reviews and blogs 

Public Engagement

I am committed to contributing to the growth of a strong and inclusive community of scholars in migration and development, creating spaces for dialogue and decentralized knowledge production. To this end, I have taken the lead co-organising seminars, talks, conferences and workshops in different countries and in partnership with colleagues, civil society and professional societies (such as IASFM, SLAS, PILAS, DARG of the RGS-IBG and BSA-MRG among others). I have also participated in several podcast and interviews, available here.

These are some of the events I have co-organised:

Professional Service

  • I have reviewed papers for Review of International Studies; Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies; Social Inclusion; Forced Migration Review; Cogent Social Sciences; Revista Migraciones and Antípoda. She also has been grant reviewer of The International Post-Doc Initiative (IPODI) Technische Universität Berlin.
  • I am member of IAFSM, SLAS, LASA and RGS-IBG
  • 2018-2019 ESPEMI Network Methodology Cluster Co-Lead.
  • 2015 – 2018 Steering Committee Member Migration Research group at Sheffield (Sheffield MRG).
  • 2017 Participated as Chile country expert for the Migration and the Law Project, World Bank Group.
  • 2017 Member Scientific Committee VII Seminário Nacional and II Conferência Latino-Americana da Cátedra Sérgio Vieira de Mello, Universidade Católica de Santos Brazil and UNHCR Brazil.
  • 2013-2014 Student Representative of the Developing Areas Research Group (DARG) - Research/study groups in the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG).
  • 2013-2014 Committee member Postgraduate in Latin American Studies (PILAS)