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School of Geography

Antonio Maffei Antonio Maffei

Contact details

Room tbc
School of Geography
University of Leeds
University Road
Leeds LS2 9JT   UK



Project title

Ontological Insecurity among A2 Citizens and Roma Communities: A Multidisciplinary Perspective

Project overview

The supranational project of the EU has redefined essential concepts for the state authority such as boundaries and territories. As established by the Treaty of Accession 2005, in fact, transnational controls on Bulgarian and Romanian citizens migrating to the UK ended on the 1st of January 2014. A2 nationals are now entitled to access the British labour market with same rights as other EU citizens. They are now free to travel around the UK and compete with British people for better job opportunities.

However, while the EU challenged territoriality as a constitutive aspect of the modern nation-state identity, local forces attempt to recover national identities through the political and cultural process of “othering”. As an example, the construction of Roma people as a security threat allows the French state to reaffirm its own existence “in the context of wider economic, social and political configurations and at a time when its legitimacy is arguably waning” (Demossier 2004). Similarly, some measures taken by the UK government are designed to prevent a new “tidal wave” of A2 migrants and enable the state to secure its own ontological existence through dynamics of social inclusion/exclusion.

Europe is therefore being transformed by both globalizing and localizing forces into a geographical space in which identities are continuously questioned. As a natural effect of migration, A2 and Roma citizens engage in a process of identity reconstruction, although being insecuritised by localizing forces at the same time. Within this context, vulnerable categories and individuals are the main target of the insecuritising practices.


My purpose is to examine the reconstruction of migrant identities and how this process is hindered by localizing and structural forces. The focus will be on vulnerable Romanian, Bulgarian, and Roma people, taken as individuals, but also as groups. The aim is to map obstacles to ontological security by analysing how freedom of movement, UK policies, and cultural differences (such as language and education) impact on migrants and their physical and social environment. This will also involve investigation on practices of resistance to insecurity and strategies to recreate and/or preserve identities and sense of routine.

Given the heterogeneity of the migration phenomenon, the attention to socio-economic, generational, and gendered differences will be a primary concern. Finally, links between experiences of ontological insecurity and reasons for migration (both individual and collective) will also be investigated.


Research Affiliations

  • Citizenship and Belonging


  • ESRC +3 Studentship

Conferences/training courses attended

  • Migrants in the City: New Dynamics of Migration in Urban Settings. An Interdisciplinary and International Conference. 12th and 13th October 20015, Sheffield.
  • Third Biannual Northern Postcolonial Symposium: Asylum, Refugee, Migration. 29th January 2016, Salford.


  • 2008 - Six months Erasmus grant (Murcia, Spain) 

Short Curriculum Vitae


  • MA in Social Anthropology (with distinction), Goldsmiths University, London, 2013-2014
  • BA in Foreign Languages and Literature, Università degli Studi di Bari (Italy), 2006-2011


  • Language Specialist, Ektor LTD, London
  • Hostel Assistant, Astor Victoria, London