Dr Zana Vathi


Dr Zana Vathi specialises in migration studies and has been doing interdisciplinary research in this field since 2005.

Prior to moving to Edge Hill University in 2012, she worked as researcher and tutor at the University of Sussex at Brighton. She was part of the Sussex Centre for Migration Research in 2005-12. Her doctoral research consisted of a comparative qualitative research with children of migrants, first-generation migrants, and key informants in three different sites: London (UK), Thessaloniki (Greece) and Florence (Italy). This research was awarded the 2012 IMISCOE Maria Ioannis Baganha Prize as the best PhD project in migration studies in Europe. In Edge Hill she has established and runs the work of the Migration Working Group – North West (MWG-NW) a research and policy group that brings together academics, organisations and practitioners working on migration who are either based in the North West of the UK, or researching migration in this region.

Within the broad field of migration studies, Zana’s research has explored four interrelated research fields:

  1. International migration in Europe and mobilities towards receiving countries and return to the country of origin.
  2. Cross-generational comparative research at the intersection of (ethnic) identity, transnational ties and integration.
  3. Urban space, aesthetics of the physical environment and belongingness.
  4. Migration policies, migrants’ trajectories and psychosocial wellbeing.

Zana’s research has been funded by the Marie Curie Actions of the European Commission and the British Academy. In 2019-20 she led the IMISCOE Research Initiative ‘Revisiting Return Migration in Shifting Geopolitics’. Emerging avenues of her research focus on complexity and the links between the spatial and the psychosocial in the context of migration. She has served as international expert in the field of migration for organizations such as MPC/EUI, Terre des Hommes, GIZ, World Bank, EU Commission (Horizon 2020) and the IOM.  In Liverpool she is part of the Asylum Seekers and Refugees Group (ASRG) of stakeholders and the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) subgroup organized by the Liverpool City Council.

Zana is Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. In the period of June 2020 – May 2021 she was ISR Fellow (Research and External Funding).

Zana loves the great outdoors and is an avid hiker and yoga and meditation practitioner. She is a member of The Ramblers and SustainNET.


  • DPhil Migration Studies, Sussex
  • MA Contemporary European Studies, Sussex
  • MSc Psychology and Counselling, Sheffield/City
  • BA Law, Tirana


  • SPY1102 Introduction to Social and Developmental Psychology
  • SPY1111 Thinking Sociologically
  • SPY2130 International Perspectives on Children and Families
  • SPY3001 Dissertation
  • SPY4009 Children and Migration

PhD and MRes supervision


  • Ekwutosi Nwakpu (Co-supervisor) Televised  suffering:  a  comparative  study  of the UK  and  Nigerian  TV audiences’ response  to  images  of proximal and  distant suffering
  • Din Havolli (Co-supervisor) Migration and National Identity of Kosovo through Creative Arts
  • Ellen Liptrot (Director of Studies, MRes) The experiences of Refugee children with Education during the COVID-19 pandemic in Liverpool


  • Sabrina Colombo (External Supervisor, Free University of Bozen, Italy) Identity and belongingness of Albanian-origin girls in South Tyrol 
  • Niroshan Ramachandran (Director of Studies) Social protection and refugee settlement in Glasgow
  • Samantha Carney (Director of Studies) Reception of refugees from the local communities in Liverpool
  • Loreen Chikwira (Co-supervisor) Gender and integration experiences of Zimbabwean women in the UK
  • Antonina Anisimovich (Co-supervisor) Media, collective identity and post-communist transition in Bulgaria

Research projects

2020Intersections between Migration, Environment and Wellbeing: Exploring Ecological Belongingness in Kenya, GCRF EHU, Principal Investigator

2019Revisiting Return Migration in Shifting Geopolitics. IMISCOE Research Initiative. Lead Researcher and RI Coordinator

2018 – Supporting the Effective Reintegration of Roma Returnees in the Western Balkans. World Bank, International Research Consultant

2017Linking Public Discourse with Policy and Practice: UK’s Response to the Refugee Crisis. EHU GTA studentships awards (x2) 2017-2020, Director of Studies.

2017EU Migrants of the North West: Continuations and Disruptions in the Post-Brexit Era. Edge Hill University Research Framework Excellence Fund, Principal Investigator

2016Situation Analysis of Migration and Development issues in Albania. Terre des Hommes, Lead Researcher

2015Bringing the aesthetics in: migrants’ relationship with urban space in Toxteth. British Academy Small Grants, Principal Investigator

2015Supporting the Western Balkans countries in Efficiently responding to the challenges posed by migration of Unaccompanied Minors. IOM, Lead Researcher

2014Mario Project: Joint action to protect Central and South East European migrant children from abuse, exploitation and trafficking in Europe. Terre des Hommes, International Expert

2013The return to and (re)integration of Albanian migrants and their children in Albania: implications for policy-making. Edge Hill University Research Framework Excellence Fund, Principal Investigator

2012INTERACT, MPC-EUI, Country Correspondent


REF2021 Case Study: Migration in the Western Balkans: impact on migrants, third sector activity and migration policy. C20 – Social Work and Social Policy


Books and edited works

Vathi, Z. and King, R. (Eds.) (2017). Return Migration and Psychosocial Wellbeing: Discourses, Policy-Making and Outcomes for Migrants and their Families. London: Routledge.

Vathi, Z. (2015). Migrating and Settling in a Mobile World: Albanian Migrants and their Children in Europe. IMISCOE Research. Dordrecht: Springer.

Journal articles

Vathi, Z. (2021). Reclaiming public space and re-imagining shared urban futures: the role of narratives in researching multiculture in the COVID-19 era. The Sociological Observer 3(1): 148-157.

Vathi, Z. and King, R. (2021). Memory, Place and Agency: Transnational Mirroring of Otherness among Young Albanian ‘Returnees’. Children’s Geographies 19(2): 197-209 https://doi.org/10.1080/14733285.2020.1773402.

 Vathi, Z. and Burrell, K. (2021). The making and unmaking of an urban diaspora: the role of the physical environment and materialities in belongingness, boundary-making and mobilisation in Toxteth, Liverpool. Urban Studies 58(6): 1211–1228 https://doi.org/10.1177/0042098020909079 

Vathi, Z and Richards, E. (2021). Every child matters? Ambivalences and convergences in migration management and child protection in Albania. Child Care in Practice 27(1): 19-34. doi.org/10.1080/13575279.2019.1664987.

Vathi, Z. and Trandafoiu, R.  (2020). EU Citizens in the UK after Brexit: Political engagement through discursive awareness, reflexivity and (in)action. Journal of Language and Politics 19(3): 479-497 doi:10.1075/jlp.19028.vat.

Duci, V., Dhembo, E. and Vathi, Z. (2019). Precarious retirement for ageing Albanian (return) migrants. Südosteuropa: Journal of Politics and Society, 67 (2): 211-233.

Vathi, Z. (2019). Identification of Albanian-origin teenagers in Thessaloniki and the role of ethnicity: a multiscalar perspective. Global Studies of Childhood, 9 (1) DOI: 10.1177/2043610618796735

Vathi, Z., Dhembo, E. and Duci, V. (2018). Social protection and return migration: the role of transnational and transtemporal developmental gaps in the Albania-Greece migration corridor. Journal of Migration and Development, 8 (2): 243-263.

Dhembo, E., Duci, V. and Vathi, Z. (2018). Return Migration and Human Rights in Albania: The Case of Social Protection. Journal of Human Rights and Social Work. DOI: 10.1007/s41134-018-0078-z.

Shkopi, E. and Vathi, Z. (2017). Re-discovering the importance of naturalization through immigrants’ experiences: citizenship and political integration in Padua, Italy. Review of European and Russian Affairs (RERA), 11 (1) – DOI.org/10.22215/rera.v11i1.258.

Vathi, Z., Duci, V. and Dhembo, E. (2016). Homeland (dis)integration: Educational experience, children and return migration to Albania. International Migration, 54 (3): 159-172.

Vathi, Z. and Duci, V. (2016). Making other dreams: The impact of migration on the psychosocial wellbeing of Albanian-origin children upon their families’ return to Albania. Childhood, 23 (1): 53-68.

Vathi, Z. (2015). A (home)land with a sea: Transnational and translocal movements of Kosovan-origin migrants in London. Journal of Leisure Studies, 34 (1): 82-97.

Vathi, Z. (2013). Transnational Orientation, Cosmopolitanism and Integration among Albanian-origin teenagers in Tuscany. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 39 (6): 903-919.

Vathi, Z. and King, R. (2013). ‘Have you got the Britísh’ Narratives of Migration and Settlement of Albanian-origin Immigrants in London. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 36 (11): 1829-1848.

Vathi, Z. (2012). Local identities, Incorporation and Identification of Albanian Immigrants in Florence. Modern Italy,17 (1): 51-68.

Vathi, Z. (2011). A context issue? Comparing the Attitude towards Return of the Albanian First and Second Generation in Europe. Journal of Mediterranean Studies, 20 (2): 343-364.

Vathi, Z. and King, R. (2011). Return Visits of the Young Albanian Second Generation in Europe: Contrasting Themes and Comparative Host-Country Perspectives. Mobilities, 6 (4): 503-518.

Vathi, Z. (2010). Migration of Albanians to London. The Endeavour, 26-27: 156-164 (Përpjekja; in Albanian)

Book reviews

Vathi, Z. (2013). Review of ‘Qualitative Methods in Migration Studies: A Critical Realist Perspective’ by Theodoros Iosifides. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 39 (5): 864-865.

Vathi, Z. (2017). Review of ‘Performing Nostalgia: Migration, Culture and Creativity in South Albania’ by Eckehard Pistrick. London: Ashgate. Migration Letters, 14 (1): 172-179.

Book chapters and working papers

Vathi, Z. (2021). Transnational return and Psychosocial Wellbeing. In King, R. and Kuschminder, K. (Eds): Handbook of Return Migration. London: Elgar – forthcoming.

Bauloz, C, Vathi, Z. and Acosta, D. (2020). Migration, inclusion and social cohesion: challenges, recent developments and opportunities. In McAuliffe, M. and Khadria, B. (Eds.): World Migration Report 2020. Geneva: International Organization for Migration, Ch. 9 – forthcoming.

Vathi, Z. (2019). Barriers to (Re)integration: The Roma Return to the Western Balkans. Working paper no. 95 of the Sussex Centre for Migration Research. https://www.sussex.ac.uk/webteam/gateway/file.php?name=mwp95.pdf&site=252

Vathi, Z. (2017). The interface between return migration and psychosocial wellbeing. In Vathi, Z. and King, R. (Eds.): Return Migration and Psychosocial Wellbeing: Discourses, Policy-Making and Outcomes for Migrants and their Families. London: Routledge.

Shkopi, E. and Vathi, Z. (2016). A Case of Bottom-Up, Slow, and Ongoing Political Integration? Naturalised Albanians in Italy. Working paper nr 88 of the Sussex Centre for Migration Research. https://www.sussex.ac.uk/webteam/gateway/file.php?name=mwp88.pdf&site=252

Vathi, Z. (2015). The age extremes: theorising age in migration research. In Collyer, M., Money, J. and Vullnetari, J. (eds.): A 70th Birthday Tribute to Russell King. SCMR Working Papers Volume. Brighton: University of Sussex. https://www.sussex.ac.uk/webteam/gateway/file.php?name=final-final-version-of-that-book.pdf&site=2

King, R., Lulle, A., Mueller, D. and Vathi, Z. (2013). VFR Travel and its Multiple Links with International Migration: A Three-Way Comparison of Migrants in the UK. Willy Brandt Working Paper Series. Malmö: Malmö Institute for Studies of Migration, Diversity and Welfare.

Vathi, Z. (2010). A matter of power? (Ethnic) Identification and integration of the Albanian-origin immigrants in Thessaloniki. Working paper nr 62 of the Sussex Centre for Migration Research. Available at

Vathi, Z. (2010). New Brits? Migration and settlement of Albanian-origin immigrants in London. Working paper no. 57 of the Sussex Centre for Migration Research. http://www.sussex.ac.uk/migration/documents/mwp57.pdf

Collyer, M. and Vathi, Z. (2007). Patterns of extraterritorial voting. Working paper T22 of the Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty.

Vathi, Z. and Black, R. (2007). Migration and poverty reduction in Kosovo. Working paper C12 of the Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty.

Black, R., Jones, L., Pantiru, M., Sabates-Wheeler, R., Skeldon, R. and Vathi, Z. (2007). Understanding migration as a driver of poverty reduction. Working paper C9 of the Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty.

Research consultancy reports

Vathi, Z. and Zajmi, I. (2017). Children and Migration in Albania: Latest Trends and Protection Measures Available. Research report. Tirana: Terre Des Hommes. http://tdh-europe.org/upload/document/7270/MIGRATION%20REPORT%20ALBANIA%20(eng)_web.pdf

Vathi, Z. (2015). Addressing Migration of Unaccompanied Minors from and through the Western Balkans. Regional Report. Vienna: IOM. http://www.albania.iom.int/publications/reports/IOM%20Regional%20Report%20on%20UAMs%20in%20Western%20Balkans.pdf

Vathi, Z. (2014). Children and Adolescents engaged in street work in FYROM: Mobilities, Vulnerabilities and Resiliencies. Research report. Budapest: Terre Des Hommes. http://tdh.ujlap.hu/upload/document/7228/Mario_Macedonia_Web.pdf

Vathi, Z. (2014). Children and Adolescents on the move involved in Street Work in Albania and Kosovo: Transnational and Internal Patterns. Research report. Budapest: Terre Des Hommes. http://tdh.ujlap.hu/upload/document/7231/Mario_Albania_Kosovo_Web.pdf

Other publications

Vathi, Z. (2022). Walking the walk: including ethnic minorities in green initiatives. Institute for Social Responsibility (ISR) Blog, 10 February. Available at: https://blogs.edgehill.ac.uk/isr/walking-the-walk-including-ethnic-minorities-in-green-initiatives/

Vathi, Z. and Trandafoiu, R. (2021). The EU diaspora in the UK cannot be ignored. LSE Brexit blog post, available at: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/brexit/2021/02/19/the-eu-diaspora-in-the-uk-cannot-be-ignored/

Vathi, Z. and Carney, S. (2020). Windrush as Watershed? Revisiting migration policy and practice in the UK. Institute for Social Responsibility (ISR) Blog, 25 September. Available at: https://blogs.edgehill.ac.uk/isr/windrush-as-watershed-revisiting-migration-policy-and-practice-in-the-uk/

Vathi, Z. and Carney, S. (2020). The UK immigration system is broken – coronavirus and Brexit will make it even worse. The Conversation, 9 September. Available at: https://theconversation.com/the-uk-immigration-system-is-broken-coronavirus-and-brexit-will-make-it-even-worse-144148?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=bylinetwitterbutton&fbclid=IwAR3uGPQqTnZglbrFU60kehumr4yNatKS1Sf8gi1qFsc4uFGEfpNV1qwLJSk

Sherman, S. et al (2020). Built on trust – the story of a five-year ‘Aurora action learning set’ still going strong. Advance HE. Available at: https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/news-and-views/built-trust-story-five-year-aurora-action-learning-set-still-going-strong

Vathi, Z. (2016). Visualising belongingness to urban space: migrants and locals in Toxteth, Liverpool. Exhibition Festival 31 – The Black E, Liverpool, 15 June – 15 July. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.4489.0480

Keynote speeches, plenaries and invited talks

2021 Political mobilisation of EU citizens and the emergence of an EU diaspora in the UK post-Brexit: reflections from the North West. Invited as part of the Northern Exposure ‘(Red) Walls, (Brexit) Borders and (Pandemic) Politics’ seminar series, University of Leeds, 30 April.

2019 Project summary ‘EU migrants of the North West: Continuation and Disruptions in the post-Brexit Era’. Plenary opening talk for the event ‘EU Nationals’ belongingness and mobilisation in the post-Brexit Era: Implications for Policy and Advocacy. Migration Working Group – North West event. Liverpool, 1 November.

2019 Return Migration, Volition and Psychosocial Wellbeing. Invited talk for ‘Unwanted Citizens of EU Member States’, Liverpool, 27 August.

2019 Making a Difference Through Research. Plenary opening talk for the annual event of the Migration Working Group-North West in collaboration with New Starts ‘Linking Research with Policy and Practice: Refugees Arrival and Settlement in Liverpool and Glasgow’. Liverpool, 22 February.

2019 Social Protection and Return Migration: the Albanian-Greek migration corridor. South East European Studies, University of Oxford (SEESOX). Annual seminar series  ‘Comparative Diasporas: Reflections on South East Europe’. 13 February.

2019 Brexit and Civic and Political Engagement among EU Citizens in the North West of England. Invited talk for the monthly event of WorldWide Wednesday. Liverpool, 6 February.

2018 Re-integration post-return: practices and policies. Invited for the workshop The Roma after the Visa Liberalization. European Policy Institute, Skopje Macedonia. 4 April.

2017 Migrants in Homeland: The (Re)integration of Children Returning from Migration and Ethnic Minorities in the Education System and their Psychosocial Wellbeing. Conference ‘Inclusive education of returnees and ethnic minorities in KosovoGIZ (The German Agency for Development), programme ‘Capacity Development in the Basic Education Sector in Kosovo (CDBE)’. Pristina, 16 November.

2017 Integration of Migrants in the Labour Market. Key note speech for the conference Career Guidance for Migrants. Merseyside Expanding Horizons, Liverpool, 12 June.

2017 Youth Identity in Multicultural Areas: beyond race and ethnicity. Key note speech for the conference T’ICI: Exploring identity strategies of young people living in multicultural areas. Merseyside Expanding Horizons, Liverpool, 12 June.

2016 The impact of the physical environment on locals’ and migrants’ belongingness to urban space in Toxteth, Liverpool. University of Padua, Italy, 27 October.

2016 ‘Here to stay’. Plenary talk for the event Migration, locality and the physical environment in Toxteth. Edge Hill University, 15 September.

2016 The impact of migration on children’s psychosocial wellbeing. Invited lecture for the Master of Advanced Studies in Children’s Rights (MCR), University of Geneva, Switzerland, 10 June.

2016 Rural-urban swings: Albanian migrants and their children upon return from Greece. International Workshop Rural-urban migration and inclusive urbanisation in China. Jinan University, Guangzhou, 13-15 July.

2015 Project findings summary for the project Supporting Western Balkan Countries in Efficiently Responding to the Challenges Posed by Migration of Unaccompanied Minors. Regional workshop, IOM, Tirana, 10 September 2015

2015 Don’t break the elastic. Keynote speech for the IMISCOE-PhD Network and Workshop. IMISCOE Annual Conference, Geneva, 25-27 June.

2015 Educational experience and performance of Albanian-origin children upon their families return to Albania. Key note speech at the international conference Migrant Descendants and “Homeland Returns”: Identity, Belonging and Transnational Mobility. University of Lisbon, 21-22 May.

2014 Impact of migration on Kosovan and Albanian children and families. Plenary talk for the National Symposium on Migration, Mental health, and Health. University of Illinois at Chicago (USA) and International Centre on Responses to Catastrophes. Pristina, Kosovo, October 29-30.

2012 The children of Albanian migrants in Europe: Ethic identity, transnational ties and pathways of integrations. Plenary talk for the IMISCOE Annual Conference. IMES, University of Amsterdam, 28-31 August.

Selected conference presentations

Vathi, Z. and Trandafoiu, R. (2021). Brexit ripples: transnational families of EU citizens and strategies of care and mobility. IMISCOE Annual Conference 5-8 July.

Vathi, Z. and Trandafoiu, R. (2021). The Politics of EU diaspora in the UK post-Brexit: civic organizations’ multi-scalar lobbying and mobilisation strategies. ECPR Joint Sessions Workshop: “Diaspora Mobilization and Homeland Politics” 24-27 May.

Vathi, Z. and King, R. (2020). Cognitive Remittances: Changing self-perceptions and positionality among Roma returnees in Albania and Kosovo. IMISCOE Annual Conference, Luxembourg, June-July.

Vathi, Z. and Burrell, K. (2019). A place to just be: migrant enterprises and urban socialities in Lodge Lane, Liverpool. Presented at the IMISCOE Annual Conference in Malmo, June 2019.

Vathi, Z. and Trandafoiu, R. (2019). Unleashing the (geo)political: EU migrants’ positionality in the post-Brexit era in Liverpool and Southport. American Geographers Association, Washington DC. 3-7 April.

Vathi, Z. and Trandafoiu, R. (2019). An EU diaspora? Diasporic identities and engagement of the EU citizens post-Brexit in Liverpool and Southport. Abstract for the IMISCOE Spring Conference Transforming Mobility and Immobility: Brexit and Beyond, Sheffield, UK. 28-29 March 2019.

Vathi, Z. and Trandafoiu, R. (2018). Losing Rights? The impact of Brexit on the high and low skilled EU migrants in the north west of the UK. IMISCOE Annual Conference, Barcelona.

Trandafoiu, R. and Vathi, Z. (2018). Fractured Nationhood: Politics From Afar for the Romanians in the UK During Brexit. Annual Conference of Romanian Studies, Bucharest.

Trandafoiu, R. and Vathi, Z. (2018). The EU Diasporas in the UK after Brexit – Refashioning East-West Relations. UACES annual conference, Bath 2018.

Vathi, Z. (2018). How can we address the vulnerability of returnees? Paper presented at the workshop ‘Supporting the Effective Reintegration of (Roma) Returnees’. Inception Workshop, January 15, 2018. World Bank Office, Vienna.

Vathi, Z. and Wattam, E. (2017). Green belongingness: Action research in green community gardens on their role in enhancing conviviality and countering inequalities. RC21 Leeds: September 11-13, 2017Rethinking Urban Global Justice: An international academic conference for critical urban studies’.

Vathi, Z. (2017). Diaspora without the nation-state? Spatial transformations of urban space and Toxteth’s glocal diaspora. IMISCOE Annual Conference, Rotterdam, 28-30 June 2017.

Vathi, Z. and Burrell, K. (2016). Dereliction and revival: belongingness and wellbeing among migrants and locals in Toxteth. Annual Conference of RGS-IBG, London, 29 August – 2 September.

Vathi, Z. (2014). Tales of a midsummer day: experiences of locality and (super)diversity of the Albanian origin teenagers upon their families’ return to Saranda. Paper presented at the conference ‘Superdiversity: theory, method and practice in an era of change’, University of Birmingham, Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS), Birmingham, 23-25 June.

Vathi. Z. (2013). The engagement with and practices of mobility among Albanian-origin teenagers in returned Albanian migrant families. Paper presented at the IMISCOE Annual Conference, Malmo, 25-27 August.

King, R., Lulle, A., Mueller, D. and Vathi, Z. (2013). VFR Travel and its Multiple Links with International Migration: A Three-Way Comparison of Migrants in the UK. Paper presented at the Surrey Think Tank on ‘Reconceptualising Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) Travel’, University of Surrey, 13 June.

Vathi, Z. (2011). Disrupting the ties? Remittances, family and transnational ties of the Albanian migrants in Europe. Paper for the international workshop Moralities of Migration. PRIO, Oslo, 13-14 December.

Vathi, Z. (2011). Educational experience, socialisation and integration of Albanian-origin teenagers in Europe. Paper presented at the ESRC Seminar on Diasporic and Transnational Youth Identities, Nottingham, 8 December.

Vathi, Z. (2009). Intergenerational transmission of culture among the Albanian first and the second generation in Florence. American University of Rome conference ‘The Sons and Daughters of Immigrants in Italy’. Rome, 13 November.

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