Skip to Content

Centre for Research on Social Inclusion

Assoc Prof Ellie Vasta

Associate Professor of Social Inclusion

Email: ellie.vasta@mq.edu.au
Phone: (02) 9850 4114 
Office: C5C 374

Research interests

My early research was concerned with the ways in which immigration, ethnicity and gender took on specific forms in response to economic and political change in Australia, and in turn helped shape the further development of Australian social relations.  I concentrated on theoretical themes of community and identity, racism, gender and immigrant agency among immigrant women, the second generation and Italian-Australians. Much of my research, both in Australia and in Europe, has focused on the situation of immigrants and the social and cultural practices which they develop through their interactions within increasingly diverse societies.  Both in my Australian work in the late 1990s and my subsequent research in the UK, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands and other European countries, I have studied the way people living in ethnically diverse communities negotiate their identities and build sociality across ethnic boundaries.

More recently, the theoretical underpinnings of my work have been based on the notion of social solidarity, questioning how in a plural and complex world we can develop ways of living together and negotiate difference. What practices and processes do we put in place to ensure we are able to live together peacefully and productively? My research concentrates on how global processes and constituent states, cultures and people can create a climate of equality and a fair distribution of power in a world that is defined by plurality and difference. My concern is with the models of inclusion we build to incorporate difference, in particular multiculturalism, on the importance of social solidarity and transnational identities, and the issue of agency.

Scholarships

Engaging with diversity: identity, belonging and solidarity in multicultural societies

FACULTY OF ARTS, CENTRE FOR RESEARCH ON SOCIAL INCLUSION (CRSI)
Engaging with diversity: identity, belonging and solidarity in multicultural societies

Two Macquarie University PhD scholarships (MQRES) are available at the Centre for Research on Social Inclusion (CRSI) to work with Associate Professor Ellie Vasta who is a recently appointed member of the CRSI. She is seeking two outstanding doctoral candidates to carry out PhD research commencing in semester 1, 2012. Closing date: 31 October 2011

Please quote the allocation reference numbers 2010345 or 2010346 on your application form. 

Global migrations and the process of globalization have brought about changes that have impacted on communities and neighbourhoods as well as on the nation state. In numerous European states, there has been a backlash against immigration and diversity due to a perceived threat by immigrants and the cultural and ethnic diversity they bring with them. What is the situation in Australia after nearly forty years of multiculturalism? In many countries there is a sense of being threatened by asylum seekers or 'boat people' as well as a shift to concern about social cohesion. What exactly is the situation in Australia? In the 21st century, how do Australians engage with difference? Some of the theoretical themes to be explored include solidarity, identity, belonging and 'tolerance' in multicultural societies. Two doctoral projects will fit into the CRSI research cluster on Migration, Multiculturalism and Nation, with relevant association to several other research clusters.

Two doctoral scholarships are available. Broadly speaking one should focus on changes in identity, belonging, solidarity and the politics of sharing, in relation to migration and diversity in Australia (#2010345). The second one will focus on African youth or African women in Australia, on questions of social participation, identity and sense of belonging in a transnational context (#2010346). 

Successful applicants will be expected to develop innovative theoretical and methodological proposals that take up these themes.

Applicants should have the following attributes:
- An Australian or international four-year undergraduate degree in an appropriate discipline (Sociology or another relevant social science) with first class honours, or equivalent research qualifications 
- Strong research and analytical skills as demonstrated through publications, writing samples or the equivalent 
- Strong interest in the topics mentioned above, and familiarity with literature and debates in this field 
- Good written and verbal communication skills

Prospective applicants should submit a research proposal, two writing samples (preferably of published work), a cover letter detailing relevant experience, a CV and academic transcripts to Associate Professor Ellie Vasta, email: ellie.vasta@mq.edu.au phone: 02 9850 4114. For further information and discussion about these PhD Scholarships, candidates are encouraged to contact Ellie Vasta.

The 2012 MQRES full-time stipend rate is $22,860 pa tax exempt for 3.5 years. 

Applicants will need to complete a candidature/scholarship application form and arrange for two academic referee reports to be submitted to the Higher Degree Research Office. Refer to: http://www.hdr.mq.edu.au/information_about/applications for further application instructions. Macquarie University will advise the successful applicant of entitlements at the time of scholarship offer. 

Please quote the allocation numbers 2010345 or 2010346 on your application.

Research Projects

Current Research Projects

Project 1: Book - Solidarity and Difference: new identities in contemporary societies
This book is based on research carried out over the past eight years. The aim of the book is to explain the relationship between solidarity and difference in countries of immigration, such as western European and Australia. Public and policy discourses on immigration and ethnic diversity in Europe have undergone substantial changes in recent years, revealing a shift away from the pluralist and multicultural approaches of the 1970s and 1980s. The new emphasis is on  social cohesion and integration into mainstream social and cultural practices, as exemplified by a desire for listing 'core values', 'integration contracts' and citizenship tests. Although these changes can be explained partially by racist everyday and institutional practices prevalent in the societies, this book provides a more comprehensive and historical analysis of social changes and social processes that differentiate solidarity from cohesion. The book explores the shifts in social solidarity and seeks to explain them by analysing a number of major social transformations that have occurred in Europe and Australia over the past half century, creating what appears to be transformed collective identities. Book contract with Palgrave-Macmillan UK.

Project 2: Belonging and Solidarity
This project is concerned with the relationship between belonging, solidarity and national identity. It explores some of the theoretical debates about belonging to the nation, and analyses immigrant narratives on citizenship, belonging and community based on interviews conducted in London. Similar interviews will be conducted in Sydney in 2011.

Project 3: Affinities Project
The focus of this research is the study of affinities that exist between various ethnic groups (immigrants as well as Anglo-Celtic Australian communities) in a number of Sydney and London multi-ethnic neighbourhoods. This is a collaborative, international project co-ordinated by Ellie Vasta (CRSI) and including Australian researchers Amanda Wise (CRSI), Selveraj Velayutham (Sociology) - Macquarie University; Greg Noble (CCR), Kevin Dunn (Geography) - UWS; and overseas researchers Mette Berg (Anthropology/COMPAS), and Alessio Cangiano (COMPAS) - University of Oxford. We are currently in the process of seeking ARC/ESRC funding.
NB: This project has begun with funding provided by the Macquarie University Safety Net Grants scheme. Gathering of statistical data, local government data on various neighbourhoods and groups has begun, and exploratory interviews will be conducted in the coming months.

Recent Research Projects

Immigrant Work Strategies and Networks Project was concerned with the relationship between immigrant work strategies and immigrants' integration into society. Based on a study of five groups (Ghanaians, Portuguese, Romanians, Turkish and British-born) representing different modes of migration, labour market statuses and networks in London, this research reveals that de-skilling and downward mobility occurred among the Ghanaians, Turks and Romanians and particularly among irregular immigrants. I introduced the concept irregular formality to characterize the phenomenon whereby immigrants attempt to 'regularize' their status within the constraints of immigration and labour market status, sometimes by renting or buying identity documents. Irregular formality provides a new analytical perspective on the structure-agency relationship.

Accommodating Difference Project was concerned with the recent tendency in politics and public discourses to reject multiculturalism in favour of notions of integration and social cohesion that hark back to assimilationist models. This tendency is found in both European immigration countries and in Australia and Canada. My fieldwork focused on academic and policy debates in the Netherlands, the UK, Australia and Canada. The project's aim was to position this turn within a broader theoretical investigation of social solidarity, cultural recognition and multiculturalism.

Transnationalism, Integration and Belonging Project explored a theme raised in recent years by European politicians and media commentators: the idea that the increasing transnational connections of migrants form a barrier to their integration into host societies. This project will be continued in Australia.

Selected Publications

2008-2011 Publications

Vasta, E. (forthcoming 2011) 'The Politics of Avoidance: the Netherlands in perspective' in Essed, P and Hoving, I (eds), Dutch Racism, Amsterdam: Thamyris Publishers.

Vasta, E (2011), 'Immigrants and the paper market: borrowing, renting and buying identities', Ethnic and Racial Studies.

Vasta, E and Kandilige, L (2010), 'London the Leveller: Ghanaian work strategies and community solidarity', Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 581-598.

Vasta, E and Erdemir, A (2010), 'Work Strategies of Immigrants: The Construction and Circulation of Myths in London', Die Erde.

Vasta, E (2010), 'The controllability of difference: social cohesion and the new politics of solidarity, Ethnicities (Special Issue).

Castles, S., De Haas, H., Van hear, N., and Vasta, E, (eds) (2010 Special Edition) 'Theories of Migration and Social Change,' Journal of Migration Studies.

Vasta, E (2009), 'Engaging with diversity: Europe between imagined homogeneity and enduring cultural difference' in  S, Alghasi, T. H, Eriksen, and H, Ghorashi (eds), Paradoxes of cultural recognition: Perspectives from Northern Europe, Aldershot: Ashgate.

Vasta, E (2009), 'Accommodating diversity: understanding multiculturalism' Confluence, March 2009, 1-2.

Vasta, E (2008), 'L'emigrazione storica dalla Sicilia all'Australia: le ultime generazione ed il loro legame con la terra d'origine', NEOS Rivista di Storia dell'Emigrazione Siciliana,107-119 (non-refereed).

Books and Monographs

Castles, S., De Haas, H., Van hear, N., and Vasta, E, (eds) (2010) Special Edition - Theories of Migration and Social Change - in the Journal of Migration Studies

Vasta, E and Vuddamalay, V. (eds) (2006) International Migration and the Social Sciences: confronting national experiences in Australia, France and Germany, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.

Vasta, E. (ed) (2000), Citizenship, Community and Democracy, London: Macmillan

----- with Castles, S. (eds), (1996), The teeth are smiling...The persistence of racism in multicultural Australia, Sydney: Allen and Unwin.

----- with Castles, S., Alcorso, C., Rando, G. (eds) (1992a), Italo-australiani: La popolazione di origine italiana in Australia, Torino: Agnelli Foundation.

----- with Castles, S., Alcorso, C., Rando, G. (eds) (1992b), Australia's Italians: culture and community in a changing society, Sydney: Allen and Unwin.

Refereed Journal Articles

Vasta, E (2011), 'Immigrants and the paper market: borrowing, renting and buying identities', Ethnic and Racial Studies.

Vasta, E (2011), 'The controllability of difference: social cohesion and the new politics of solidarity, Ethnicities (Special Issue).

Vasta, E and Kandilige, L (2010), 'London the Leveller: Ghanaian work strategies and community solidarity', Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 581-598.

Vasta, E and Erdemir, A (2010), 'Work Strategiesof Immigrants: The Construction and Circulation of Myths in London', Die Erde.

Vasta, E (2009), 'Accommodating diversity: understanding multiculturalism' Confluence, March 2009, 1-2.

Vasta, E (2008), 'L'emigrazione storica dalla Sicilia all'Australia: le ultime generazione ed il loro legame con la terra d'origine', NEOS Rivista di Storia dell'Emigrazione Siciliana,107-119 (non-refereed).

Vasta, E (2007) 'From Ethnic Minorities to Ethnic Majority Policy: multiculturalism and the shift to assimilationism in the Netherlands', Ethnic and Racial Studies, 30, 5, 713-740.

Vasta, E. (2004) 'Community, the state and the deserving citizen: Pacific Islanders in Australia', Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Vol 30, No 1: 195-213.

Vasta, E. (2004), 'Empleo Informal y Redes de Immigrante: Una Revisione',  Migración y Desarrollo, 3, 2-18, Mexico.

Vasta, E.  (1997), 'La Mobilisation Ethnique', Hommes et Migrations, No1208, July-August, 81-93.

Vasta, E. (1997), 'Les Femmes Immigrees en Australie', Hommes et Migrations, No1208, July-August, 104-114.

Vasta, E. (1994), 'Youth and Ethnicity: Theorizing NESB Youth and the Second Generation', Family Matters, Number 38, August, 21-25 (non-refereed).

Vasta, E. (1993), 'Multiculturalism and Ethnic Identity: The Relationship between Racism and Resistance', ANZJS, August, Vol 29, No 2, 209-225.

Vasta, E.  (1993), 'Immigrant Women and the Politics of Resistance', Australian Feminist Studies, Number 18, Summer, 5-23.

Vasta, E. (1993) 'Il cambiamento socioculturale: le donne italo-australiane e la seconda generazione' Altreitalie, no 9, 69-83.

Book Chapters

Vasta, E.  (2011) 'The Politics of Avoidance: the Netherlands in perspective' in Essed, P and Hoving, I (eds), Dutch Racism, Amsterdam: Thamyris Publishers.

Vasta, E (2009), 'Engaging with diversity: Europe between imagined homogeneity and enduring cultural difference' in S, Alghasi, T. H, Eriksen, and H, Ghorashi (eds), Paradoxes of cultural recognition: Perspectives from Northern Europe,  Aldershot: Ashgate.

Erdemir, A and Vasta, E (2007), 'Work Strategies among Turkish Immigrants in London: differentiating irregularity and solidarity' in Erik Berggren, Branka Likic-Brboric, Gülay Tokzös and Nicos Trimikliniotis (eds), Irregular Migration, Informal Labour and Community in Europe, Maastricht: Shaker Verlag.

Vuddamalay, V. and Vasta, E. (2006), 'Difficult Comparisons: Social Sciences and Migration in Three national Societies' in Vasta, E. and Vuddamalay, V (eds), International Migration and the Social Sciences: Confronting National Experiences in Australia, France and Germany, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Vasta, E. (2006), 'Migration and Migration Research in Australia' in Vasta, E. and Vuddamalay, V (eds), International Migration and the Social Sciences: Confronting National Experiences in Australia, France and Germany, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Vasta, E. (2005), 'Australia' in Gibney, M.J., and Hansen, R. (eds), Immigration and Asylum, Oxford: ABC-CLIO, 34-40.

Castles, S. and Vasta, E. (2004) 'Controlling Immigration: the Australian Case' in Cornelius, W., Martin, P., and Hollifield, J. Controlling Immigration: a Global Perspective', Stanford: Stanford University Press.  

Vasta, E.  (2003) 'L'immigrazione Italiana in Australia: la Seconda Generazione' in Emigrazione italiana transoceanica tra Otto e Novecento el la storia delle communità derivate, Marcello Saiya (ed), Trisform: Messina, Italy.

Vasta, E. (2000) 'The Politics of Community' in Vasta, E. (ed), Citizenship, Community and Democracy, London: Macmillan and St Martin's Press, New York.

Vasta, E. (1999), 'Multicultural Politics and Resistance: Migrants Unite?' in Hage, G and Couch, R., The Future of Australian Multiculturalism, Sydney: RIHSS University of Sydney.

Vasta, E.  (1996), 'Dialectics of Domination: Racism and multiculturalism' in Vasta, E. and Castles, S. (eds), The teeth are smiling...The persistence of racism in multicultural Australia, Sydney: Allen and Unwin.

Vasta, E. (1995), "Youth and Ethnicity: The Second Generation" in Guerra, C. and White, R. (eds), Ethnic Minority Youth in Australia: Challenges and Myths, Hobart: National Clearinghouse for Youth Studies.

Vasta, E.  (1995), "Multiculturalisme et identité ethnique: le cas australien", in Neveu, C. (ed), Nations, Frontièrs et Immigration en Europe, Paris: L'Harmattan (111-142).

Vasta, E.  (1993), 'Rights and Racism in a New Country of Immigration: The Italian Case' in Wrench, J. and Solomos, J. (eds), Racism and Migration in Europe, London: Berg.

Vasta, E.  (1992), 'The Second Generation Italo-Australians' in  Castles, S.,  Alcorso, C., Rando, G. and Vasta, E. (eds.), Australia's Italians: culture and community in a changing society, Sydney: Allen and Unwin.

----- with Castles, S. ,Rando, G. (1992), 'Italian-Australians and Politics', in  Castles, S.,  Alcorso, C., Rando, G. and Vasta, E. (eds.),  Australia's Italians: culture and community in a changing society, Sydney: Allen and Unwin.

Vasta, E.  (1991), 'Gender, Class and Ethnic Relations: The Domestic and Work Experiences of Italian Migrant Women in Australia', in Bottomley, G., de Lepervanche, M., Martin, J.,  (eds),  Intersexions, Sydney: Allen and Unwin.

Recent Reports/Working Papers

Vasta, E. (2009) 'The controllability of difference: social solidarity and immigrant integration', COMPAS Working Paper Series, WP-09-71

Vasta, E. (2008), 'The Paper Market: 'borrowing' and 'renting' of identity documents', COMPAS Working Paper Series, WS-08-03.

Vasta, E. and Kandilige, L. (2007), 'London the Leveller: Ghanaian work strategies and community solidarity', COMPAS Working Paper Series, WS-07-52.

Erdemir, A and Vasta, E. (2007) 'Differentiating irregularity and solidarity: Turkish Immigrants at work in London', COMPAS Working Paper Series, WS-07-42.

Vasta, E. (2007), 'Accommodating Diversity: why current critiques of multiculturalism miss the point', COMPAS Working Paper Series, WS-07-53.

Vasta, E, (2006), 'From Ethnic Minorities to Ethnic Majority Policy: changing identities and the shift to assimilationism in the Netherlands' COMPAS Working Paper Series, WP-06-26.

Vasta, E, (2005), 'Theoretical fashions in Australian Immigration Research', COMPAS Working Paper Series, WS-05-11.

Vasta, E, (2004), 'Informal Employment and Immigrant Networks: A Review Paper', COMPAS Working Paper Series, WS-04-02.

Vasta, E., Ley, D., Pedersen, P. and Solomos, J, (2003) An Evaluation of Swedish International Migration and Ethnic Relations (IMER) Research 1995-2002, Sweden: FAS

2010 Conferences and Seminars

  • Refereed paper 'Multiple languages of belonging in the metropolis' for TASA Conference, Macquarie University, December 2010
  • 'Immigrants and the Paper Market: borrowing, renting and buying identities' to Human Rights Program and Sociology, University of Chicago, November 1, 2010.
  • Vasta. E. 'Do we need 'social cohesion' in the 21st century?' in Rethinking Australian research on migration and diversity, ASSA workshop, August 9-10, 2010, University of Sydney.

Recent Seminar/Workshop/Conference

Organizer

  • Organizer of the Public Lecture on Human Rights, Refugees and Asylum Seekers, The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) Migration, Ethnicity & Multiculturalism Thematic Group & Macquarie University Centre for Research on Social Inclusion (CRSI), July 21, 2011
  • Academy of the Social Sciences of Australia Workshop - co- organised workshop with Profs. Stephen Castles and Graeme Hugo on Rethinking Australian research on migration and diversity, University of Sydney, August 9-10, 2010.
  • Co-organised with Professors Tariq Modood, Bhikhu Parekh and Michael Keith an international symposium on Belonging, Britishness and Alienation, Oxford University, June 18-19, 2009.
  • Co-organiser of the IMISCOE Theory conference, IMI-COMPAS, July 2008.
  • Organiser of two thematic breakouts at COMPAS 2008 Conference: Session C (Theme 2) - Theoretical aspects of diversity and unityDiscussant: Varun Uberoi (The University of Oxford)  Facilitator: Don Flynn; Session D (Theme 2) - Does transnationalism challenge social solidarity? Discussant: Nina Glick-Schiller (University of Manchester), Facilitator: Hein De Haas (The University of Oxford).
  • Organized book launch of A New Politics of Identity: Political Principles for an Interdependent World by Professor Lord Bhikhu Parekh, St Antony's, University of Oxford, May 29 2008.
  •  'Accommodating Diversity: why current critiques of multiculturalism miss the point', Metropolis Conference, Melbourne, October 8-13, 2007; workshop organised with Amanda Wise and Farida Tilbury.
  • Co-convenor of GLOMIG Second International Workshop with Dr Othon Anastasakis, SEESOX, St Antony's. 'Migration to the EU: Challenges, Rights and Opportunities', February 22-23, 2007.

Invitations

  • Keynote presentation to conference Pathways, Circuits and Cross-roads: International migration in uncertain times, on 'Immigrant work strategies and irregular immigrant and labour market status', Waikato University. Wellington, November 1-5, 2009.
  • Invitation to present a keynote address on discrimination to IMISCO annual conference, Stockholm University, September 10-12, 2009.
  • Keynote on 'The controllability of difference: social solidarity and immigrant integration' to conference on The Politics of Social Cohesion, at Centre for the Study of Equality of Multiculturalism, University of Copenhagen, September 9-12, 2009.
  • Lecture on 'Engaging with diversity: integration and multiculturalism in Europe' at the Summer School in the Sociology of Migration, Centro Studi Medì di Genova and University of Milano, June 25-26, 2009.
  • 'Beyond Britishness: multiple languages of belonging' paper (with Michael Keith) presented to Symposium on Belonging, Britishness and Alienation, Oxford University, June 18-19, 2009.
  • Discussant at symposium on Migration, Citizenship and Precarious Labour: cross-Atlantic perspectives in times of crisis, Institute for Research on Migration, Ethnicity and Society, University of Linkopings, Sweden, May 14-15, 2009.
  • 'Europe and the challenges of diversity' presented at Social and Cultural Shocks as Opportunity at workshop on New Worlds - New solutions: Research as a basis for developing Europe in a global context. Organised by the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (FAS), Tallinn University, Estonia, March 24-25, 2009.
  • Participant at AHRC 'Tradition in the Present' seminar on Liberalism and Multiculturalism, Kings College London, March 16, 2009.
  • 'L'emigrazione storica dalla Sicilia all'Australia: le ultime generazione ed il loro legame con la terra d'origine' presented at Memorie del Futuro: sul rilancio del ruolo dell'associazionismo nelle politiche migratorie, ANFE, Palermo, November 28-29, 2008.
  • 'The controllability of difference: social solidarity and immigrant integration' presented at Post-Immigration Minorities, Religion and national Identities conference, Bristol University, November 14-15, 2008.
  • Keynote Address: 'Immigrant Work Strategies and Social Rights: the Construction and Circulation of Myths', International Symposium 'Transnational Spaces, immigrant entrepreneurship and development as builders of changed social and spatial organization Europe', 26-17 September, 2008, University of Bremen.
  • Paper presented 'Immigrant Resistance and the positionality of the Structure-Agency Dialectic' in the 'The Structure-Agency Dialectic in Migration' session of IMISCOE theory Conference, IMI-COMPAS. Oxford University, July 1-3, 2008.
  • Plenary Address: 'The controllability of difference: immigrant integration and social solidarity' for plenary session Engaging with Diversity: have we had enough? COMPAS Annual Conference, Oxford University, June 30-July 2, 2008.
  • Discussant with Professor Sir Adam Roberts (International Relations, Oxford) for book launch of A New Politics of Identity: Political Principles for an Interdependent World by Professor Lord Bhikhu Parekh, St Antony's, University of Oxford, May 29 2008.
  • 'Controllability', Options for Britain Seminar, Nuffield College, Oxford, March 5, 2008.
  • Seminar presentation 'The paper market: 'borrowing' and 'renting' identities' to Surveillance, Identity, and the Future of Privacy in the 21st Century, James Martin Institute, Said Business School, University of Oxford, February 26, 2008.
  • Keynote Address: 'Social diversity in European cities: developing multiculturalism', Integrating Cities 11, European Union, Brussels and City of Milan, November 4-6 2007, Milan.

Return To Top