15 January 2001
For immediate release
A migration expert at the University of Sussex is marking the 10th anniversary of the collapse of communism in Europe's poorest country with a new study. Together with Dr Gabriella Lazaridis, a sociologist from the University of Dundee, Professor Russell King has just begun work on a two-year investigation of the mass exodus from Albania to Greece and Italy during the 1990s.
The Albanian exodus is of particular interest because it is the only case of mass migration out of the former communist states of eastern Europe. An estimated one in six Albanians has deserted their native land since 1990. Many of them left in dramatic fashion, risking their lives to cross the Adriatic in flimsy boats.
Today Albanians are the most stigmatised migrant group in both Greece (where an estimated 300,000-500,000 live), and Italy (where around 100,000 Albanians are legally resident).
In spite of the numbers involved, the picture is fragmented and based on little accurate factual data. Now, with £115,000 in funding from the Leverhulme Trust, Professor King and Dr Lazaridis aim to build up a detailed profile of Albanian migration, looking at the migration processes, the experiences of employment and housing and, where they exist, community structures and networks.
They also hope to compile a statistical dossier on the age, sex, geographical distribution, social and religious background of the migrants.
In the process the two researchers will also examine the ways in which the stigmatisation and social and economic exclusion of Albanians in Greece and Italy have operated. "Undoubtedly the media have played a key role in generating this 'albanophobia'," says Professor King. "In Greece and Italy, Albanians have become stereotyped and stigmatised as bad people and criminals. We know that's not the full story, by any means, and we want to investigate the fuller picture."
Two research fellows have been appointed to assist with the study: Nicola Mai will be based at Sussex and Maria Koumandraki will be based at Dundee.
The research will take Professor King and Dr Lazaridis to Puglia and Bologna in Italy and Athens and Corfu in Greece, recording interviews and participating in discussion groups with migrants and the professionals who work with them.
Notes for editors
For further information, please contact Alison Field or Peter Simmons, University of Sussex,
Tel. 01273 678888, Fax 01273 877456, email A.Field@sussex.ac.uk or P.J.Simmons@sussex.ac.uk.