I work on territorial and identity politics at the regional and sub-national levels in Europe and in California. I focus on the institutional and political aspects of belonging and representation and how they relate to the governance of the territory. I also study the relationship between cultural identity and individuals' day-to-day lives in their communities, from Latinx communities in California to linguistic minorities in Europe.
My dissertation project examines how regional governments re-scale territorial governance, in other words, how they change the scale of the institutions that interact daily with the citizenry. Territorial designs are highly consequential regarding who gets resources, who gets represented, and what dictates the power relations between levels of government. To understand the multilevel dynamics that drive specific institutional reforms at the regional level, I focus on four Italian regions: Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, and Sardegna. Through a mixed-methods multilevel approach using policy, quantitative, newspapers, and expert interview data, I critically explore how regional sociopolitical contexts impact variations in local and territorial policies. My argument combines socio-political regulatory modes rooted in historical legacies with multilevel political rent-seeking logics. My findings pivot on the historical relevance of center-periphery relations where parochialism from localized cultural, ethnic, and political interests have endured.
We Belong Project
Since 2021, I have been developing the codebook and managing an integrated workflow among the data analysis teams. I am training and overseeing undergraduate students in collaborative qualitative coding of interview transcripts for the 'We Belong: Collaboration for Community-Engaged Research and Immigrant Justice' project. This project, led by PIs Dr. McKay and Dr. Lopez, sheds light on the mechanisms that affect the sense of belonging in immigrant communities in Santa Cruz County (CA). Our analysis of 81 transcribed interviews highlighted six major themes related to interviewees’ sense of Belonging and Not Belonging. Finally, the two PIs and I are working on a publication focusing on the project's methodology: Community-Initiated Student-Engaged Research (CISER), which is close research collaboration between university-based researchers, and community-based research experiences for a large number of undergraduate students.
Özil and the Politics of German Identity
I have worked with PI Dr. Gehring on the project "Mesut Özil and the Politics of German Identity". Mesut Özil, a star of the soccer pitch and a German citizen of Turkish descent, chose to play international soccer for Germany instead of Turkey. This study investigates the debate over Özil's identity and loyalty to Germany through a mixed-method approach, connecting the debate over Özil's actions and broader divisions about race, identity, and nationalism in Germany. We focus on how this might relate to the far-right Alternative for Germany party's rise (and relative fall) in the past seven years. Our mixed-methods approach analyzes electoral and surveys data and the content of newspaper journals across Germany. Our analysis suggests that, from the outside, the Ozil affair could read as a return to an ethnonationalist and exclusive definition of German identity. In reality, the boundaries of German identity are quite fluid and vary significantly in the former East and West. (image from The Guardian)