Project titled "Immigrants' integration and the role of a diversity of organisations in achieving sustainable small towns and rural areas"  


Main results: UAB Doctoral theses related to the project


Thesis title: Inter-Ethnic Experiences of Polish Immigrants in South-Western European Neighborhoods. Comparing Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, and Empuriabrava, Castelló d’Empúries.

Author: Dawid Wladyka (GRM, UAB)

Directors: Ricard Morén-Alegret & Àngels Pascual de Sans (GRM, UAB)

Submission of thesis: 30 September 2013

PhD Viva: 28 November 2013 (UAB).

Abstract: This dissertation focuses on the inter-ethnic experiences of Polish immigrants in the Sagrada Familia neighborhood in Barcelona and Empuriabrava neighborhood in Castelló d'Empúries. The analysis is based on the semi-structured interviews with Polish immigrants and local key informants, supplemented by documental research. The tested hypothesis assumes that the inter-ethnic experiences of Polish immigrants lead to emergence of the opinions about ethnically diverse neighborhoods and about particular ethnic groups contacted during everyday’s life, while the socio-economic and spatial factors modulate both, the possibilities of experiences and the consequent opinions. The results show that variety of socio-spatial factors, like life-stage or urban fabric, influences the possibilities of inter-ethnic experiences.  The study also demonstrates that contact with other ethnic groups resulted with positive opinions as far as economic and symbolic threats empowered by economic recession did not appear. Therefore, the findings support the interdisciplinary approaches to inter-ethnic relations learned mostly from the discrepancies between Contact and Conflict theories. The results empower comparative focus on immigrants’ integration in the neighborhoods of large cities and small towns, while acknowledging the importance of socio-spatial features of interactions in context of built and natural environments.


Thesis title: Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change in the Mediterranean region. Climate out of balance in Aiguamolls de l’Empordà?

Author: Sandra Fatoric (GRM, UAB)

Director: Ricard Morén-Alegret (GRM, UAB)

Submission of thesis: 20 December 2013

PhD Viva: 20 February 2014

Abstract: The focus of Phd thesis is on climate change as one of the essential aspects of environmental change. The overarching goal of the thesis is to identify, develop, and explain the vulnerability assessment for the community and livelihoods in Aiguamolls de l’Empordà in the face of climate change and to identify and explain principal measures for adaptation. First, the thesis aims to analyse climate change variables for the study area. Then it turns its attention to assess the dimensions of community’s vulnerability to climate change in the study area in order to identify ways in which the adaptive capacity can be increased and exposure and sensitivity decreased. Thirdly, it focuses on identifying and evaluating the most appropriate technical, economic and structural adaptation measures to respond to vulnerability. This can help to highlight which measures may reduce vulnerability most effectively. Lastly, the aim is to provide an understanding of possible future outmigration fr om study area and accounting for migration not only as a consequence of climate change impacts, but as a part of adaptive response to change. The study area, however, serves as an example for many regions along the Mediterranean coast, lying below or around sea level.


Thesis title: Foreign immigration around natural areas. An international comparison between localities of Alt Empordà (Spain) and Alentejo Litoral (Portugal) / Immigració estrangera a l’entorn d’espais d'interès natural. Una comparació internacional entre localitats de l’Alt Empordà (Espanya) i l’Alentejo Litoral (Portugal)

Author: Albert Mas Palacios (GRM, UAB)

Director: Ricard Morén-Alegret (GRM, UAB)

Submission of thesis: 28 February 2014

PhD Viva: 8 April 2014


This research is focused on the foreign nationality immigration settled around areas of natural interest, carrying out an international comparison between the localities of Alt Empordà (Spain) and Alentejo Litoral (Portugal). The main objective is, on the one hand to analyze the roles that the natural areas of these territories (and the forms of environmental protection) have played in the arrival and settlement of these population groups; and on the other hand, to learn about the relationship between foreign residents and the nearby natural areas.

In this regard, from an Iberian context, the research wants to contribute to the debates around the counterurbanization concept, the naturbanitzation concept, the environmental migration, the sometimes diffused distinction between economic-labour and lifestyle migration and also, although more tangentially, to the debate on foreigners integration in the receiving societies.

These aims have been achieved through a methodology principally based on qualitative analysis techniques which included interviews conducted with a total of 101 key informants, 52 of whom have foreign nationality and the rest have Spanish or Portuguese nationality respectively.

Among other issues, the research highlights the presence of different types of foreign residents (with an important variety of migratory motivations) in each area; that the role played by the natural areas in the migratory processes of the foreign residents is largely influenced by the profiles of these residents; and that some differences between the characteristics of the study areas are relevant in the role played by the natural areas in these migratory processes.

Beyond foreign residents, the research also draws attention to the relationship between the local population in general and the nearby natural areas. The analysis of this question, among other things, shows a number of deficiencies (or issues to be improved) that should be seen as very relevant for the future of these areas.



Provisional thesis title: Migración boliviana en pequeñas localidades de Catalunya (España) en un contexto global. El caso de Cadaqués (Bolivian migration to small towns in Catalonia (Spain). The case of Cadaqués).

Author: Josepha Milazzo (GRM, UAB, and TeleMMe, Aix-Marseille Université)

Directors: Ricard Morén Alegret (GRM, UAB) and Virginie Baby-Collin (TeleMMe, Aix-Marseille Université)

Scheduled date of submission: academic year 2014-2015

Abstract: In order to provide some elements of response to the debate on migratory globalization, this research study focuses on the geographic and professional mobility of Bolivian migrants between different places and environments on a Catalonian scale, as well as the transnational relations maintained with different Bolivian towns of departure and/or origin (Cochabamba, Santa Cruz). It also considers the Spanish context of the last decade as a new international destination for such secular migration. Between a formalization of migratory processes and standardisation of their areas of spatial inscription or a persistence of the specificity of what is local, the research focuses on the question of the (semi)rural environment and low density towns as being potentially more ‘adaptable’ than major urban centres to long-term participation in local life by (im)migrant populations. I propose a systemic geographic reading of such towns through contact, formalising a heuristic conceptual table – a ‘spatial-perceptive migrant system’, through which the spatial perceptions of Bolivian migrants reveal the places chosen and hierarchized in accordance with the coactions and resources perceived as such by the migrants. Further than tackling the critical question of the effects of international (im)migration on the receptor and emitter regions, notably in terms of development, Josepha Milazzo’s project is also a more general consideration of migrant worlds and some notions that could be associated with them (such as the migratory “experience”, “project” or “quality of life”), of agencies, of the articulation of different forms of mobility (circulation, internal and international migration), and of the complexity of human and social sciences, with implications both for worldwide migratory geography and contemporary ‘North-South’ interactions and the regional, cultural and humanistic geography of the population.


Grup de Recerca Sobre Migracions. Dep. de Geografia. Facultat de Lletres. 08193 Bellaterra. -