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Listen to the podcast of the 19 November seminar, part of the RSC Michaelmas term 2014 Public Seminar Series

Undocumented migration is a huge global phenomenon, yet little is known about the reality of life for those involved.Sans Papiers, co-authored by Alice Bloch, Nando Sigona and Roger Zetter, combines a contemporary account of the theoretical and policy debates with an in-depth exploration of the lived experiences of undocumented migrants in the UK from Zimbabwe, China, Brazil, Ukraine and Turkish Kurdistan. Built around their voices, the book provides a unique understanding of migratory processes, gendered experiences and migrant aspirations. In this talk, Nando Sigona and Roger Zetter draw on their book to explore the ambiguities and contradictions of being an undocumented migrant, providing insights into personal experiences alongside analysis of wider policy issues. 


Roger Zetter is Emeritus Professor of Refugee Studies, retiring as the fourth Director of the Refugee Studies Centre in September 2011. His long association with the RSC commenced in 1988 as Founding Editor of the Journal of Refugee Studies, published by Oxford University Press, a position held until 2001.

Following degrees from Cambridge and Nottingham Universities he completed his DPhil at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex; this research on the Greek–Cypriot Refugees from 1974 was the foundation for a career-long engagement with questions of institutional and bureaucratic power and the labelling of refugees. His 1991 paper ‘Labelling refugees: forming and transforming a bureaucratic identity’ in the Journal of Refugee Studies is one of the most widely cited papers in the field of refugee studies. For the centenary of Oxford University Press Journals, the paper was selected as one of the 100 most influential papers published over the previous century.

Nando Sigona is Birmingham Fellow and Lecturer in the School of Social Policy, University of Birmingham, and an RSC Research Associate. Prior to joining the School of Social Policy in 2013, he was Senior Research Officer at the Refugee Studies Centre and Senior Researcher at the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford. He is a sociologist with over ten years research and teaching experience in migration, refugee and ethnic studies. Dr Sigona’s work investigates the interplay between forms and modes of contemporary membership, governance, and the politics of belonging. This is achieved through in-depth examinations of a range of experiences of membership including, but not limited to, those of: Roma; undocumented migrant families; ethnic minorities; children of undocumented migrant parents; unaccompanied asylum seeking minors; people with dual citizenship; ‘failed’ asylum seekers; and stateless people.

Dr Sigona is one of the founding editors of Migration Studies, a new refereed journal by Oxford University Press that started publication in Spring 2013. He is one of the editors of the recently-published Oxford Handbook on Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (Oxford University Press, 2014) and author (with Alice Bloch and Roger Zetter) of Sans Papiers: The Social and Economic Lives of Undocumented Migrants (Pluto Press, 2014). 

He maintains an academic blog, Postcards from..., contributes for magazines, newspapers and blogs, and is active on social media.


Sans Papiers: The Social and Economic Lives of Undocumented Migrants Publications

Roger Zetter People

Nando Sigona External

Refugee and Forced Migration Studies: The state of the art News & Media