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Department of Geography Economic Geography

Isabella Stingl

Isabella Stingl, Dr.

PhD in Economic Geography, titled: (Im)Possible Selves: Exploring Refugees' Experiences of Work and Migration in Switzerland (2017 - 2021)

PhD project of Isabella Stingl

PhD Committee: Christian Berndt, Karin Schwiter

Economic participation of migrants in their respective host-countries is commonly presented as the key precondition for successful integration in other social spheres. However, it has been contested recently that in the case of refugees labor market participation is increasingly linked to the granting of residence permits and other social rights. This trend can be regarded as problematic to the extent that labor market performances cannot solely be ascribed to individual capacities or so called integration efforts. Rather, labor market access of refugees is widely influenced and regulated through migration and integration policies.
Drawing on Foucauldian governmentality theory, this project picks up on the tension between migrants’ individual economic aspirations and politically structured opportunities. It draws attention to how migration and integration policies open up certain fields of possible labor market participation while excluding others, e.g. via integration measures such as job training programs. I investigate the effects of discursive constructions expressed through such policies on individual laboring biographies. To do so, I question how migrants experience being addressed when trying to access the labor market. Further, I explore how these interpellations actually regulate labor market performances by influencing the self-understanding and strategies of respective persons.
In my empirical case, I work with people who were granted asylum or temporary admission in the canton of Zurich, Switzerland. The empirical data is gathered through ethnographical fieldwork with a focus on biographical, narrative interviews. Doing so, I aim at deepening the understanding of how discursive differentiations that are mobilized through migration and integration policies actually play out on the subject level.

Stingl, Isabella 2021: Die Zeit als Gegenstand und Mittel des Regierens. Praktiken der Integrationsförderung im Kontext Arbeit und Migration. Time as object and means of governing. Practices of integration in the context of labour and migration, Geographische Zeitschrift 109(1): 44-63. DOI:10.25162/gz-2021-0003

Stingl, Isabella 2021: (Im)Possible selves in the Swiss labour market: Temporalities, immigration regulations, and the production of precarious workers, Geoforum 125(2): 1-8. DOI:10.1016/j.geoforum.2021.06.016

Mittmasser, Christina & Stingl, Isabella 2022: Migrant Counterspaces: Challenging Labour Market Exclusion through Collective Action, Revue Européenne des Migrations Internationales 37(1 & 2): 229-249. DOI: 10.4000/remi.18507