Gabriella's work explores the criminalisation of mobility under the labels of ‘migrant smuggling’ and ‘human trafficking’. She is also interested in the ways the academic and policy discourse articulate narratives of violence along borders. Her work is ethnographic in nature and has relied on contributions from the people who facilitate migrants' journeys in the Americas, North Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
Libya has been at the forefront of the conversation on the so-called migration ‘crisis as the main point of departure in North Africa for hundreds of thousands of migrants trying to reach the EU. The facilitation of these departures has all along been attributed to the concerted efforts of allegedly complex, sophisticated and hierarchically-organized migrant smuggling organizations. While not denying the violence impacting the lives of migrants in Libya, it is also important to keep in mind the limitations of these bodies of data. Gabriella’s case study, crafted in the context of the EU-LISTCO project, seeks to reduce these research gaps. Drawing from interviews carried out in Italy with migrants who travelled to and spent time in Libya as part of their successful journeys into Europe, and supplemented with field observations and interviews carried out along the Libya-Tunisia border, it outlines the dynamics of the practice known as migrant smuggling in Libya, following the collapse of the Ghaddafi regime. It argues that the narratives of blood-thirsty and profit-driven smuggling militias and tribes palatable to a security-minded Europe, differ and in some instances even clash with the lived experiences of the migrants who relied on, experienced or even participated in the provision of clandestine mobility services in Libya. In so, it joins a growing body of scholarship demonstrating how across Africa, the transformation of mobility facilitation strategies –smuggling being only one of them --has not taken place in a vacuum.