OMNES : The Journal of multicultural society

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OMNES: The Journal of Multicultural Society - Vol. 11, No. 1

[ Article ]
OMNES: The Journal of Multicultural Society - Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.20-45
ISSN: 2093-5498 (Print)
Print publication date 31 Jan 2021
Received 31 Oct 2020 Revised 10 Dec 2020 Accepted 30 Dec 2020

Forced Migration to Mountain Regions: Empirical Evidence from Two Reception Projects in the Italian Alps
Bona Marzia ; Bergamasco Giulia ; Ravazzoli Elisa
Eurac research, Italia
Eurac research, Italia
Eurac research, Italia


Following the Italian government’s strategy relocating asylum seekers and refugees outside urban centers, by 2016 the presence of asylum seekers became distinctly noticeable in the Italian Alps. This contributes to a substantial transformation of Alpine communities. As the integration of refugees depends on several dimensions, mountain relocation offers both benefits and restrictions: Physical constrains may obstruct integration, but at the same time specific mountain features can create opportunities for innovation and community development that support socio-economic and cultural integration. This paper provides empirical evidence that contributes to the study of the dimensions that influence refugees’ chances of inclusion and integration in mountain areas. It uses a case-study approach to compare two reception projects in the Italian Alps, i.e., Welcoming Village (Pettinengo, Piedmont) and Residence Le Baite (Montecampione, Lombardy). It adopts a territorial perspective to answer three research questions: Which strategies have been enacted by local organizations? Which territorial resources have been mobilized in reception projects? What are the outcomes of reception initiatives for newcomers and local communities? Our hypothesis is that the interplay between structural elements and the agency of local actors determines the framework for the integration and outcomes of reception projects for both newcomers and local communities.

Keywords: Forced migration, relocation, local development, local actors, mountains


This article is dedicated to Agitu Ideo Gudeta (1978–2020). Woman, sociologist, entrepreneur, organic farmer, refugee from Etiopia, and citizen of the world. As a mountain breeder and entrepreneur in Valle dei Mocheni, Trentino, she helped us to better understand the complexity of living and working as a newcomer in the mountains, today. Her choices and path will always remain an example. May the earth be grateful to her.

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Biographical Note

Bona Marzia, MA. is a researcher at the EURAC Institute for Regional Development. She is the project manager of the H2020 research project MATILDE, that studies the impact of Third Country Nationals in rural and mountain areas across Europe. She holds a Master of Arts from the University of Bologna in International Relations and pursued additional specialization in gender studies, human rights and diversity management (Euro-Balkan, Skopje; IECOB, Bologna; University of Sarajevo). Her current research focuses on migrants’ integration in mountain regions and the role of transnational movements and civil society in integration processes. E-mail:

Bergamasco Giulia holds an MA in European affairs from the University of Rennes. She has been working as a trainee at the Institute for regional development. E-mail:

Ravazzoli Elisa, Ph.D. is senior researcher at the EURAC Institute for Regional Development. She focuses on the investigation of contemporary phenomena (e.g. demographic change, internal and international migration) from a spatial and sociological perspective. She holds a PhD in Economics - Policy and Culture of the Territory from the University of Bologna and a MA in Geography and Territorial Processes from the same university. Her research focuses on different topics related to human, regional and spatial geography (e.g. population patterns; socio-spatial transformations; regional spatial disparities; urban-rural divide; public spaces) and she is interested in the impacts of internal and international migration on local and rural development. Email: