Lisa Marie Borrelli

Visiting Scholar

photo of Lisa Marie Borrelli


Lisa Marie Borrelli is a postdoctoral researcher within the ‘National Competence Centre for Research’ (nccr – on the move) based at the University of Neuchâtel and the University of Applied Science – HES-SO Valais, Institute of Social Work, Switzerland. She also works as a lecturer at the ‘Maison d’analyse des processus sociaux’ (Centre for the Analysis of Social Processes) at the University of Neuchâtel and received her PhD from the Institute of Sociology at Bern University.

Her research interests circle around the broader concepts of exclusion and banishment, including a focus on how noncitizens’ rights are restricted by states in the fields of migration law, welfare policies and public administration. She follows an ethnographic approach and is interested in qualitative methodologies to study decision-making of (non)state actors, bureaucratic practices, policy discourses and legal case work.

During her PhD she conducted extensive, in-depth fieldwork in six European states, analysing how various state agencies detect, detain and deport noncitizens with precarious legal status.

Currently her research studies the intersection of migration law, social policies and welfare rights, especially in how social assistance and integration requirements become measures of exclusion for foreign nationals throughout the European context (see project on ‘Governing Migration and Social Cohesion through Integration Requirements: A Socio-Legal Study on Civic Stratification in Switzerland’, coordinated by Prof. Christin Achermann and Prof. Stefanie Kurt). In this empirically driven, ethnographic study, she develops theories related to discriminating administrative processes, decision-making practices and discretion of various (non)-state actors in Sweden, Germany and Switzerland, working at the intersection of social and migration law.

Lisa also teaches – among others – on biopolitics, transnationalism, organisational sociology and qualitative methodology. She is engaged in several research networks and interested in academic knowledge transfer that makes research more accessible to the public.

Research Interests

border and migration, deportation, detention, confinement, welfare policies, anthropology of the state, sociology of law, ethnography, organizational sociology, emotions and affect, structural violence, banishment and exclusion

Selected Publications

Borrelli, Lisa Marie. 2021. ‘Encounters of Despair. Street-Level Bureaucrat and Migrant Interactions in Sweden and Switzerland’. Anthropologica 63 (1): 1–28.

Borrelli, Lisa Marie. 2021. ‘’They Know the Procedure; They Just Don’t Know When We Will Come’ – Uncovering the Practice of Unannounced Deportations’. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.

Borrelli, Lisa Marie, Stefanie Kurt, Christin Achermann, and Luca Pfirter. 2021. ‘(Un)Conditional Welfare? Tensions Between Welfare Rights and Migration Control in Swiss Case Law’. Swiss Journal of Sociology 47 (1): 73–94.

Borrelli, Lisa Marie. 2020a. ‘Should (s)He Stay or Should (s)He Go? – The Suspicious Gaze of Street Level Agents and the Construction of the “(Un)Deserving Migrant”’. Geopolitics.

Borrelli, Lisa Marie. 2020. ‘Between Suspicion, Nicknames, and Trust—Renegotiating Ethnographic Access with Swedish Border Police’. Journal of Organizational Ethnography ahead-of-print (ahead-of-print).

Eule, Tobias G., Lisa Marie Borrelli, Annika Lindberg, and Anna Wyss. 2019. Migrants Before the Law: Contested Migration Control in Europe. Palgrave Macmillan.

Borrelli, Lisa Marie, and Annika Lindberg. 2018. ‘The Creativity of Coping: Alternative Tales of Moral Dilemmas among Migration Control Officers’. International Journal of Migration and Border Studies. 4 (3): 163–78.