Nerea Viana Alzola

Mme Nerea Viana Alzola

PhD candidate in Sociology and teaching assistant

+41 379 89 61
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Nerea VIANA ALZOLA is a PhD candidate at the University of Geneva, specializing in the field of urban sociology. She is affiliated with the Institute of Sociological Research (IRS) and Urban Hub, a center of competence for the study of cities and urban societies. Her research revolves around the Unexpected Inclusions: Migration, Mobility and the Open City (UNIC) project. The aim of this research is to delve into the intricate dynamics of migrant associations, urban rituals, and bottom-up initiatives, and their role in fostering the inclusion of newcomers in seven diverse European cities.

She holds a multidisciplinary Master's degree in Asian Studies from the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, as well as a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Naples "L'Orientale" (focus: East Asia). After an internship at Gaea21, where she focused on the analysis of sociological indicators and the practices related to sustainable development goals in cities, she decided to further explore these issues by pursuing a PhD in urban sociology. For her thesis, she focused on the cities of Geneva, Switzerland, and Hamamatsu, Japan, both members of the intercultural cities network. Through on-site and digital ethnography (archival research, interviews, participant observations and visual methods) she examined how online and offline practices have facilitated the inclusion of newcomers at the macro, meso, and micro levels.

At the macro level, her research investigates the interplay of global and local influences that have shaped the dynamics of inclusion for newcomers in the urban contexts under examination. This also involved exploring how these dynamics contribute to the construction of cities' identity, brand, and policymaking. At the meso level, she conducted an in-depth investigation into the evolving landscape of inclusion, exploring the interconnectedness of online and offline practices, as well as the intertwining of the intimate and the public realms, in welcome groups. These groups, born during the peak of the 2015 reception crisis and responding to the subsequent crisis triggered by the Ukrainian war outbreak in 2022, played a significant role in fostering inclusive practices in Geneva. Finally, at the micro level, employing a socio-historical and auto-ethnographic approach, she engaged in a comprehensive exploration of the material and immaterial dimensions of everyday inclusion within the suburban neighbourhood of Geneva where she resides, namely Le Lignon.

By diving deep in case analysis over time and emphasizing description, this study aims to make empirical contributions to ongoing academic conversations in the fields of urban and migration studies. It also seeks to stimulate reflections on the concepts of inclusion, urban well-being, and the identities of places where newcomers dwell or settle - whether they do so permanently or temporarily. In this direction, therefore, Nerea Viana Alzola's research sheds light on the complexities of urban societies in today's digital mobile times, highlighting the significance of online and offline urban communities of practice in fostering inclusive environments.

Through a comprehensive analysis of these complex and dynamic processes, one of her ultimate goals is to provide informed recommendations to policymakers and urban planners, based on the project and her thesis findings, in order to build future cities that are welcoming and inclusive for all.


Publications in the Open Archive of the University of Geneva