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School of Geography

Dr Marcia Vera Espinoza


Lecturer in Human Geography, Director of International Study

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



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, forced displacement, 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 completed my BA at the University of Chile, followed by an MA in International Studies and a PhD in 2016, based in Geography, at the University of Sheffield. I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy since June 2020.

Currently, I am conducting research on the impacts of COVID-19 on migrant and refugee populations across seven countries in Latin America as part of the research group CAMINAR (Comparative Analysis on International Migration and Displacement in the Americas). I am also co-leading a cross-regional research project (with Prof Parvati Nair), funded by QMUL Strategic Research Priorities Fund, aimed to explore the role of civil society organisations supporting migrant populations in Brazil and India in the context of Covid-19 (MigPanBrIn). 

Before joining QMUL, I was an associate researcher in the ERC funded project 'Prospects for International Migration Governance' (MIGPROSP), and taught at the University of Sheffield (2015-2018).


Recent publications:



My teaching places students as the 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 and development processes and practice. I am also passionate about teaching and discussing qualitative research methods.

In 2020-21 I teach on the following modules:


  • GEG6147 Geographies of Forced Migration (convenor)
  • GEG5128 Spaces of Uneven Development (convenor)
  • GEG4004 Research Methods for Geographers and Environmental Scientists (contributor)
  • GEG5103 Geographical Research in Practice (contributor)


  • GEG7129 Migration and mobilities (contributor)

I also regularly teach in different Summer Schools on topics related to migration:



Research Interests:

My current research includes four interconnected areas:

1. COVID-19 and Migrant Inclusion/Exclusion in Latin America
I am a co-founding member of CAMINAR, Comparative Analysis in International Migration and Displacement in the Americas, established in April 2020 with colleagues from seven institutions in Latin America. Our current research examines the impacts of COVID-19 on migrants and refugees in the region, as well as the extent to which migrants have been included in the mitigation responses to the pandemic.
I am also co-leading a cross-regional research project (with Prof Parvati Nair), funded by QMUL Strategic Research Priorities Fund, aimed to explore the role of civil society organisations supporting migrant populations in Brazil and India in the context of Covid-19 (MigPanBrIn).

2. Geographies of migrant and refugee inclusion in South America
I am currently working in a research proposal aimed to increase our understanding of migrant and refugee inclusion and 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 the diverse 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. As part of this line of research, I am also working in further understanding the political life of migrants in Latin America.

3. 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 reveal 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 was funded by CONICYT, as well as through fieldwork grants provided by SLAS, SIID and the RGS-IBG Slawson Award.

4. 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

  • ​Vera Espinoza, M. (August 2021) The Mixed Legacy of the Mexico Declaration and Plan of Action: Solidarity and Refugee Protection in Latin America in Jubilut, L.L., Vera Espinoza, M., Mezzanotti, G. (eds) (2021) Latin America and Refugee Protection: regimes, logics and challenges. Berghahn Books.
  • Bengochea, J., Cabezas, G., Gandini, L., Herrera, G., Luzes, M., Montiel, C., Prieto, Vi., Vera Espinoza, M., Zapata, G. P. (2021, in press). COVID-19 y población migrante y refugiada. Análisis de las respuestas político-institucionales en ciudades receptoras de seis países de América Latina. In F. Vera, V. Adler & F. Toro (Eds.), Inmigrando: Comprender ciudades en transición, Vol. 3. Buenos Aires: BID. pp: 749-782
  • Geddes, A., Vera Espinoza, M.,Hadj Abdou, L., & Brumat, L. (2019) Introduction: the dynamics of regional migration governance, in Geddes, A., Vera Espinoza, M., Hadj-Abdou, L. & Brumat, L. (eds), The Dynamics of Regional Migration Governance, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing. Pages 1-14.
  • Vera Espinoza, M.,(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. Pages 166-185. DOI:10.4337/9781788119948.00015
  • 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

Working papers and reports

  • Nair, P., Vera Espinoza, M., Zapata, G.P., Tiwary, S., Castro F.R., Nizami, A., Jorgensen, N., Yadav, A., Oza, E., Khan, F., Ranjan, R., Zocchi, B., Barve, S., and Barraco, M. (2021) Migration, Pandemic and Responses from the Third Sector: Lessons from Brazil and India [Report] QMUL: London. [Versão em português disponível aqui]
  • 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 and blogs 


Current PhD Students

Nuni Jorgensen (with Rachel Humphris) PHD-QMUL: ‘Fleeing South: The Impact of Patchwork Policies on Transnational Venezuelan Families in Latin America’ (2020-). QMUL Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholarship.

Giovanna Gini (with Kerry Holden) PHD-QMUL: 'Anthropocene Mobilities: identity as a process between materialities and mobilities' (2019-). QMUL Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholarship.

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:

A list of talks and conference presentations is available here.

Professional Service

  • Member International Advisory Board Forced Migration Review.
  • 2018 ESPMI Network Methodology Cluster Co-Lead. Co-editor Discussion Series Decolonizing Forced Migration Research.
  • I have reviewed papers for Political Geography; Review of International Studies; Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies;Revista Internacional de Cooperación y Desarrollo;Social Inclusion; Forced Migration Review; Cogent Social Sciences; Revista Migraciones; Antípoda; Social Inclusion and International Development Planning Review.
  • Book Proposal Evaluator: Macmillan International Higher Education (2018); Polity Books (2019); Routledge (2020); Bristol University Press (2021)
  • 2017 - Grant reviewer of The International Post-Doc Initiative (IPODI) Technische Universität Berlin
  • 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)
  • I am member of IAFSM, SLAS, LASA and RGS-IBG.