GTD Colloquium November 4: Dr. Milena Belloni, Book presentation: The Big Gamble: The Migration of Eritreans to Europe

You are invited to the: 

Globalization, Transnationalism


Development Colloquium


When: Wednesday November 4, 2020, from 16:00-17:30

Where: Zoom (


The topic of this lecture is:

Book presentation: The Big Gamble: The Migration of Eritreans to Europe

By Dr. Milena Belloni

University of Antwerp – University of Gent


Tens of thousands of Eritreans make perilous voyages across Africa and the Mediterranean Sea every year. Why do they risk their lives to reach European countries where so many more hardships await them? By visiting family homes in Eritrea and living with refugees in camps and urban peripheries across Ethiopia, Sudan, and Italy, Milena Belloni untangles the reasons behind one of the most under-researched refugee populations today. Balancing encounters with refugees and their families, smugglers, and visa officers, The Big Gamble contributes to ongoing debates about blurred boundaries between forced and voluntary migration, the complications of transnational marriages, the social matrix of smuggling, and the role of family expectations, emotions, and values in migrants’ choices of destinations.


Milena Belloni is an ethnographer specialized in migration and refugee studies. Before her FWO Fellowship, she was a Post-doctoral researcher in the ERC HOMInG Project at the University of Trento, a fellow in Modern Italian Studies at the American Academy in Rome and a Post-doctoral researcher in refugee studies at the Centre for Migration and Intercultural Studies (CeMIS, Antwerp). In 2016 her thesis “Cosmologies of Destinations: roots and routes of Eritrean forced migration towards Europe” won the Maria Baganha IMISCOE 2016 Award for the best doctoral dissertation in migration studies.

Milena has conducted extensive fieldwork in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Italy and Holland. Her research mainly concerns refugees’ migration dynamics and integration pathways, transnational refugee families, migrant smuggling, and ethnographic methods. Currently her FWO project deals with refugee family reunification in Belgium and Italy. Her monographic study on the migration of Eritreans to Europe, The Big Gamble, is published by the University of California Press (2019). For more information on her work see