Since my bachelor in Sociology at Panteion University, Greece, I became interested in migration, which led me to my masters in Migration and Transnationalism in Nottingham, UK. Despite the limited duration of an MA in the UK (1 year), I conducted participant observation and in-depth interviews with international students in order to discuss their experiences through the lens of transnational studies. This first contact with qualitative research in the field of migration sparked even more my interest in following this academic trajectory.
During my doctoral research (University of Leicester, UK), I became familiar with the multiple implicit and explicit othering practices against international students both on the institutional level of higher education and on the level of migration policies. In fact, migration control has been disseminated inside university campuses and operationalized even by university agents such as international student offices. Even more importantly, the experiences of my research participants pointed to the blurriness between inclusive and exclusive practices as they were regularly encountered throughout their international student journey; from the airport to the university classrooms and from student visa agencies to international student offices on campus. However, the purpose of my PhD research was far from victimising international students, but to think with them about the double effect of international students’ experiences: a) as exposing the myriads of mechanisms that homogenise international students in one category (non-EU students) and at the same time segment them in manageable (sub)categories and incorporate them only to the ‘proper’ extent and for the ‘proper’ amount of time in the country and the university; b) the multiple creative imperceptible and/or more loud strategies of international students to challenge, betray, bring on its head, delink from the selective/segmented welcoming of them to the UK and its higher education institutions.
The relation of my doctoral research with feminism was on an epistemological level. That is, the research was carried out with a feminist sensitivity not reduced to gender, but with a feminist awareness of producing knowledge by engaging with analytical tools and methodological strategies which were developed as a response to the white, hetero-patriarchal and positivistic academia. Thus, my entry point was everyday experience researched with the help of Collective Memory-Work.
CMW was developed by a group of German feminist leftist scholars influenced by critical psychology, who wanted to re-politicise and re-historicise experience within academic research, abandoning at the same time the rigid boundaries between researchers and researched and the split between theory and method.
When experience is approached in its embodiment and geo-political situatedness, it becomes a force that obliges different theoretical traditions to merge, breaking disciplinary dichotomies, and instead opening fruitful interdisciplinary dialogues. Thus, my ongoing interest in everyday experience understood as inter-relational, embodied, situated and geo-socio-political, has been ontologically and epistemologically central throughout my research trajectory.