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School of Politics and International Relations

Dr Raffaele Bazurli


Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow

Room Number: ArtsOne, Room 2.24
Twitter: @RaffaeleBazurli


Dr Raffaele Bazurli is a political and social scientist whose research and teaching focus on urban governance and politics, immigrant welfare and asylum, and social movements. He joined the School of Politics and International Relations in February 2023 with the project Sanctuary Policies for Irregular Migrants in European Cities (SPIMEC), for which he was awarded the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship (MSCA-PF). The project is currently funded by the UKRI Postdoctoral Fellowships Guarantee due to the ongoing delays in UK association to Horizon Europe.

Raffaele’s research agenda is inherently interdisciplinary, at the crossroad of political science, sociology, geography, and public policy analysis. He is especially interested in understanding how local officials and grassroots activists interact to shape the multi-level governance of immigration, possibly breeding policy conflicts and subverting unwanted national policies. He explores these issues by looking at the welfare of irregular and forced migrants as well as of marginalised urban residents, with a focus on Europe and Latin America. On this basis, he aims to pose broader questions on the role of cities as key, innovative players in contemporary global governance, whose policy experiments may crucially contribute to a just, democratic, and sustainable future.

Raffaele’s research appears in the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies; South European Society and Politics; the International Political Science Review; the Urban Affairs Review; Territory, Politics, Governance; Citizenship Studies; PS: Political Science and Politics; Politiche Sociali / Social Policies; and in various edited volumes. He has written policy reports and opinion pieces for assorted outlets and he has been involved in various public engagement initiatives, such as the impact project Barrio Saldías and the research-policy partnership SIforREF. The British Academy, the European Union, the Government of Italy, the Research Council of Norway, and UK Research and Innovation have all supported his research.

Raffaele earned a Ph.D. in Political Science and Sociology (2020) from Scuola Normale Superiore in Florence, with a thesis on migration governance and social movements in Milan and Barcelona. Prior to joining the School of Politics and International Relations, he has been a postdoc at QMUL School of Geography (2022), at the Centre for Research on Extremism (C-REX) at the University of Oslo (2021), and at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice (2020-22). He has also held visiting research positions at the Institute for Government and Public Policy at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (2018) and at the Urban School of Sciences Po-Paris (2018-19). He is a member of the Centre on Social Movement Studies (COSMOS) at Scuola Normale Superiore, of The City Centre at QMUL, and of the Soli*City network at Toronto Metropolitan University.

More information:

Undergraduate Teaching

POL334 Migration and the Politics of Belonging (Teaching Associate)

Postgraduate Teaching

POLM095 International Migration and Public Policy (Guest Lecturer)


Research Interests:

Current research project

Sanctuary Policies for Irregular Migrants in European Cities (SPIMEC)

In times of closed borders and restrictive immigration laws, many European cities have enacted “sanctuary policies” (SPs) to support the growing number of residents with irregular migration status. Through SPs, local governments disrupt the monopoly of nation-states over immigration and citizenship, challenging conventional understandings of governance in liberal democracies. The core question of Sanctuary Policies for Irregular Migrants in European Cities (SPIMEC) is to explain the varieties, drivers, and impacts of SPs in Europe. Bridging insights from multiple disciplines, SPIMEC theorises that local governments are situated at the crossroad of political mobilisation from the bottom up and institutional restrictions from the top down. These different, often contradictory forces shape the opportunities and constraints for SPs. SPIMEC relies on a threefold comparative research design, analysing SPs across (1) national contexts (in North-West, South, and Central-East Europe); (2) local contexts (in terms of city politics and society), and (3) over time (looking at the “refugee crisis”, Brexit, and COVID-19 as potential turning points for policy change). A quantitative Large-N study compares Europe’s 95 largest cities, drawing on existing datasets and secondary literature. Next, a quali-quantitative Small-N study zooms in on four city-cases based on original fieldwork data. SPIMEC aims to make a timely, urgent, and path-breaking contribution to migration studies. It will produce unique empirical data on European SPs to provide the information cities need to promote migrant integration, as well as new theoretical insights on urban politics and multi-level governance more broadly. Addressing this gap is of utmost importance from a substantive point of view. SPIMEC shall provide policy recommendations to stakeholders supporting irregular migrants, whose condition of exclusion and invisibility is more relevant than ever amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

For this project Dr Raffaele Bazurli was awarded the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship, funded by UK Research and Innovation (grant reference EP/X03674X/1).

Past research projects

Uneven Urban Democracy: Inequality and Political Participation in Buenos Aires

(Period: 2020-2022; PI: Dr Sam Halvorsen; funder: The British Academy)

De-bordering Activities and Citizenship from Below of Asylum Seekers in Italy: Policies, Practices, People (PRIN-ASIT)

(Period: 2019-2022; PI: Professor Maurizio Ambrosini; funder: Government of Italy)

Mobilization Against Migration (MAM)

(Period: 2020-2023; PI: Professor Kristian Berg Harpviken; funder: Research Council of Norway)

Integrating Refugees in Society and the Labour Market Through Social Innovation (SIforREF)

(Period: 2019-2022; PI: Professor Francesca Campomori; funder: Interreg Central Europe)

Contentious Migration Policies: Dynamics of Urban Governance and Social Movement Outcomes in Milan and Barcelona

(PhD thesis, Period: 2015-2019; Supervisor: Prof. Donatella della Porta)

Learning from Innovation in Public Sector Environments (LIPSE)

(Period: 2013-2016; PI: Prof. Victor Bekkers; funder: European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme)

More information on past research projects:

Examples of research funding:

Grants and scholarships

Horizon Europe (2023-24) Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship (MSCA-PF). 100% score, 1st attempt. € 220,908

Urban Studies Foundation (2022-25) Urban Studies Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. 1st attempt. Offered declined to accept the MSCA-PF. £ 180,000

Queen Mary University of London (2022-23) Queen Mary Impact Fund, Large Stream (with Dr Sam Halvorsen). 1st attempt. £ 47,800

Queen Mary University of London (2022) HSS Impact Fund (with Dr Sam Halvorsen). 1st attempt. £ 2,810

Scuola Normale Superiore (2015-19) Scholarship to attend the PhD program. Approximately € 65,000

Sciences Po (2018-19) Erasmus+ scholarship awarded for research visit. Approximately € 3,500

Autonomous University of Barcelona (2018) Erasmus+ scholarship awarded for the visiting period. Approximately € 5,700

Prizes and awards

City University of New York (2021-22) Distinguished Visiting Scholar Award by the Advanced Research Collaborative of the CUNY’s Graduate Centre. Visit cancelled due to COVID-19. $3,000

American Political Science Association (2021) Best Paper in Urban or Regional Politics presented at the 2020 APSA Annual Meeting. $ 250

European Consortium for Political Research (2020) Young scholar mobility grant to attend the 48th Joint Sessions of Workshop, April 14-17, Sciences Po-Toulouse. Event cancelled due to COVID-19. € 550 


Peer-reviewed journal articles

Bazurli, Raffaele, and Els de Graauw. 2023. ‘Explaining Variation in City Sanctuary Policies: Insights from American and European Cities.’ Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 49 (14): 3649–3670.

Bazurli, Raffaele, and David Kaufmann. 2023. ‘Insurgent Asylum Policies in European Cities: A Multi-Level Governance Perspective.’ Urban Affairs Review 59 (4): 1129–1159.

Bazurli, Raffaele, and Francesca Campomori. 2022. ‘Further to the Bottom of the Hierarchy: The Stratification of Forced Migrants’ Welfare Rights amid the COVID-19 Pandemic in Italy.’ Citizenship Studies 26 (8): 1091–1116.

Bazurli, Raffaele, Tiziana Caponio, and Els de Graauw. 2022. ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Mayors, Migration Challenges, and Multi-level Political Dynamics.’ Territory, Politics, Governance 10 (3): 297–305.

Bazurli, Raffaele, and Martín Portos. 2021. ‘“Crook!”: The Impact of Perceived Corruption on Non-electoral Forms of Political Behavior.’ International Political Science Review 42 (2): 245–260.

Bazurli, Raffaele. 2020. ‘How “Urban” is Urban Policy-Making?.’ PS: Political Science & Politics 53 (1): 25–28.

Bazurli, Raffaele, Francesca Campomori, and Mattia Casula. 2020. ‘Shelter from the Storm: “Virtuous” Systems of Urban Asylum Governance Coping with Italy’s Immigration Crackdown.’ Politiche Sociali / Social Policies 7 (2): 201–224.

Bazurli, Raffaele. 2019. ‘Local Governments and Social  Movements in the “Refugee Crisis”: Milan and Barcelona as “Cities of Welcome”.’ South European Society and Politics 24(3): 343–370.

Edited special issues of journals

Bazurli, Raffaele, Tiziana Caponio, and Els de Graauw. 2022. ‘Mayors and Migration Challenges in US and European Municipalities.’ Territory, Politics, Governance 10 (3).

Voices in encyclopaedias

Bazurli, Raffaele. 2023. ‘Sanctuary Movements.’ In The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Social and Political Movements (2nd Edition), edited by David A. Snow, Donatella della Porta, Doug McAdam, and Bert Klandermans, 1893–1895. London: Wiley-Blackwell.

Book chapters

Bazurli, Raffaele, and Imrat Verhoeven. Forthcoming. ‘Contentious Governance and the City: How Urban Alliances Contest National Authority over Climate and Migration Policy.’ In Global Urban Policy, edited by David Kaufmann and Mara Sidney. Under contract with The University of Michigan Press.

Bazurli, Raffaele, and Francesca Campomori. 2023. ‘Oltre la “Crisi dei Rifugiati”: Quali Lezioni da un Decennio di Governance dell’Asilo? I Casi di Bologna e Venezia.’ In Rifugiati e Solidali: L’Accoglienza dei Richiedenti Asilo in Italia, edited by Maurizio Ambrosini, 43–74. Bologna: Il Mulino.

Bazurli, Raffaele, and Francesca Campomori. 2023. ‘Il Sistema di Asilo alla Prova del COVID-19: L’Esasperazione dell’Inclusione Differenziale di Richiedenti Asilo e Rifugiati.’ In Rifugiati e Solidali: L’Accoglienza dei Richiedenti Asilo in Italia, edited by Maurizio Ambrosini, 75–106. Bologna: Il Mulino.

Bazurli, Raffaele, and Carlos Delclós. 2022. ‘Crimmigration and Solidarity in the Global City: The Case of Barcelona’s Street Vendors.’ In Contentious Migrant Solidarity: Shrinking Spaces and Civil Society Contestation, edited by Donatella della Porta and Elias Steinhilper, 63–82. New York: Routledge.

Book reviews

Bazurli, Raffaele. 2018. Street Politics in the Age of Austerity: From the Indignados to Occupy, edited by Marcos Ancelovici, Pascale Dufour, Héloïse Nez. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2016. Partecipazione e Conflitto – PACO 11 (3): 926–931.

Public Engagement

Impact project: Barrio Saldías

In 2022, I have been a postdoc for the project Uneven Urban Democracy: Inequality and Political Participation in Buenos Aires, led by Dr Sam Halvorsen at QMUL. Within the context of this study, Dr Halvorsen and I have conducted fieldwork research in Barrio Saldías, a small informal settlement in Buenos Aires.

Due to long-lasting invisibility, Barrio Saldías is excluded from urban development initiatives on infrastructural upgrading. Near to Saldías is Roca Museum, a public cultural institute committed to recognising this neighbourhood as an integral part of Buenos Aires’ community.

Driven by the will to forge a long-term collaboration with local residents, the museum, and other stakeholders, we launched a major impact project, titled Barrio Saldías: Visibility, Representation, and Upgrading in an Informal Neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, realised thanks to the generous support of two grants by the Queen Mary Impact Fund (£ 50.623).

This project brings together QMUL researchers and key stakeholders to unleash the transformative potential of a documentary, an exhibition, a wall painting, and a book. These interventions will raise Barrio Saldías’ profile and visibility and enhance Roca Museum’s public engagement capacity, including through fresh collaborations with UK museums. By engaging with Buenos Aires’ policy-makers, we will spur infrastructural upgrading in and beyond Barrio Saldías.

The project is ongoing (Jan-Jul 2023). All its outputs will be available online soon.

Public venues

On 10 May 2023, the ISMU Foundation, in Milan, hosted me as a speaker for the webinar Protezione Temporanea e Accoglienza dei Profughi Ucraini in Italia e in Spagna (‘Temporary Protection and Reception of Ukrainian Forced Migrants in Italy and Spain’). During my speech I have discussed Barcelona’s asylum policies before and after the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022. The video recording of the webinar, in Italian, is available on YouTube.

On 20 October 2022, I chaired the roundtable The Politics of Refuge: Sanctuary Policies in the US, UK, and Europe, hosted by the TheoryLAB and The City Centre at QMUL. Bringing together experts on sanctuary cities in the US, UK, and Europe, the roundtable has examined how these policies differ based on national context, the existing evidence for the effects they have, the common causes shared by sanctuary localities, as well as the racialised aspects of immigration enforcement. We had the privileged to host these outstanding guests:

  • Prof Benjamin Gonzalez O’Brien (San Diego State University)
  • Prof Elena Vacchelli (University of Greenwich, London)
  • Sophie Gregory (Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network – LRMN)

The video recording of the event is available on YouTube.

On 10 May 2022, I chaired the webinar The Rise of Sanctuary Cities During the European ‘Refugee Crisis‘, held at the Centre for European Research, Queen Mary University of London. The event has brought together leading scholars, policy-makers, and migrant rights activists directly involved in sanctuary initiatives in Europe. This was our outstanding line-up of guest speakers:

  • Prof Harald Bauder (Toronto Metropolitan University)
  • Hera Lorandos (Bourough of Sanctuary of Lewisham and Bourough of Sanctuary of Greenwich)
  • Ramon Sanahuja (Barcelona’s City Council and C-MISE)
  • Dr Sarah Spencer (University of Oxford)

The video recording of the webinar is available on YouTube. I have also written a short summary of the event in the Europe Matters Blog.

Op-eds and blog entries (selection)

‘The Rise of Sanctuary Cities During the European “Refugee Crisis”.’ In Europe Matters Blog, May 2023

‘Mobilising for the Right to the City: Inequalities and Political Participation in the Neighbourhood of Saldías, Buenos Aires.’ In Uneven Urban Democracy, July 2022

‘How Corruption Drives Political Participation – and the People Most Likely to Mobilise.’ In ECPR The Loop (with Martín Portos), May 2021

‘Shelter from the Storm: ‘Virtuous’ Systems of Urban Asylum Governance Coping with Italy’s Immigration Crackdown.’ In Percorsi di Secondo Welfare (with Francesca Campomori and Mattia Casula), December 2020

‘Barcelona, a Beacon By the Sea.’ In Jacobin Magazine (with Pablo Castaño Tierno), July 2018

Arabic and Hebrew translations published in the Israeli magazine “Haokets”

‘Immigrazione: Antiche Controversie e Nuove Solidarietà.’ In Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, May 2017

‘Milano 20 Maggio: Breve Reportage dal Cuore Pulsante del Corteo.’ In Gli Stati Generali (with Fulvio De Filippi and Niccolò Natali), May 2017

Policy briefs and funded research reports

Bazurli, Raffaele and Francesca Campomori. 2021. ‘Il Sistema di Asilo alla Prova del COVID-19: L’Incremento della Stratificazione dei Diritti.’ Quaderni della Coesione Sociale / Social Cohesion Papers, 3/2021: 1-7.

Bazurli, Raffaele, Francesca Campomori, and Chiara Marchetti. 2020. ‘Dall’Emergenza Sanitaria alla Sanatoria: La Condizione degli Immigrati nella Pandemia.’ Quaderni della Coesione Sociale / Social Cohesion Papers, 3/2020: 32-40.

Nasi, Greta, Maria Cucciniello, Valentina Mele, Giovanni Valotti, and Raffaele Bazurli. 2015. ‘Policy Recommendations for Adopting, Diffusing and Upscaling ICT-Driven Social Innovation in Public Sector Organizations.’ (LIPSE policy brief). European Commission, Directorate-General for Research & Innovation.

Nasi, Greta, et al. 2015. ‘Determinants and Barriers of Adoption, Diffusion and Upscaling of ICT-driven Social Innovation in the Public Sector: A Comparative Study Across 6 EU Countries.’ (LIPSE research report). European Commission, Directorate-General for Research & Innovation

Interviews and media coverage

My alma mater Scuola Normale Superiore, where I obtained my PhD in 2020, has published an article on its website presenting my new research project, Sanctuary Policies for Irregular Migrants in European Cities (SPIMEC). For this project I was awarded the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship, which I am carrying out at SPIR-QMUL. The article (in Italian) is available at this link.

I have spoken about the history of asylum and immigration in the city of Venice to journalist Sophia Hill for her documentary Venice and the International Language of Food, released in May 2022. The documentary shares the story of Hamed Ahmadi and his restaurant Orient Experience, which has helped forced migrants to emancipate and feel part of the local community, while also touching on the history of the city and its globalised past and future. The documentary is available on YouTube.

On 2 May 2020, I have spoken about my research on the role of immigrant rights movements for policy change to Melting Pot Radio, the radio lab for the promotion of citizenship rights. The audio recording and a written summary are available at this link.

More information on outreach activities:

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