Michele Gonnelli

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Assoc. PhD Student

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Research Project

Somali Diaspora Members as unofficial ‘Development’ Agents and Communicators in their Country of Origin. Visions and Challenges.

The project aims at investigating social change communication and practice as emanating from Somali Diaspora members in their unofficial and unplanned developmental engagements towards their country/community of origin. Moving beyond their role as financial remitters, the focus is on their capacity as social change agents, social remitters, and hence social change communicators. In particular the research explores Somali Diaspora members as (re)producers of new/old development goals and social change paradigms that where developed and/or readjusted along diasporic trajectories. Visions and communication challenges are then investigated as experienced at individual and interpersonal level. Exceeding the historical debate revolving around the Modernization theory, the project shifts the focus to substantial bottom-bottom processes. By doing so it intercepts a vast reality that exists well beyond the institutional project and the professional practice typical of the Development sector. The ultimate goal is to shed some light on spontaneous and overlooked dynamics, where actual change might silently take place.

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Jens Loenhoff

Research Focus and Interests

  • Migrations, Diaspora Studies, and Social Remittances
  • Somalia and the Horn of Africa
  • Development Communication & Communication for Social Change
  • Development Theory and Economics


Since 10/2014:   SIIC - Erich Brost Institute, TU Dortmund, PhD candidate in Development Studies
2007 - 2014:   Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (Pisa, Italy), Editor in Chief, The International Commentary (ITPCM); Media Manager
2005 - 2007:   University of Venice, MA Language & Culture – ITALS, 110/110
2003 - 2005:   Germany, France, Australia, Teaching Assignments
2001 - 2002:   Italian Ministry for the Environment, Expert for Sustainable Development in Europe
2001 - 2002:   Italian Ministry for the Environment & FORMEZ, Sustainable Development, Postgraduate Programme - Scholarship
1995 - 2000:   University of Pisa, Laurea in Political Science – International Studies, 110/110 "summa cum laude"


The International Commentary, ISSN no. 2239-7949, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Edited Issues & Editorials:

  • Peace-Keeping, Trends and Challenges in Africa, July 2014, Vol. X no. 36
  • Senegal, between Migrations to Europe and Returns, April 2014, Vol. X no. 35;
  • Somalia, Clan and State Politics, Dec. 2013, Vol. IX no. 34;
  • Research Outputs as Policy Inputs, July 2013, Vol. IX no. 33;
  • Yemen on the Verge of Change, April 2013, Vol. IX no. 32;
  • Colombia: Land & Human Issues, December 2012, Vol. VIII no. 31;
  • Sudan/South Sudan: Broadcasting State Power, July 2012, Vol. VIII no. 30;
  • Iran: Beyond the Taken for Granted, April 2012, Vol. VIII no. 29;
  • Libya, A Security Crossroads. European Perspective and Beyond, Dec 2011, Vol. VII no. 28;
  • Pakistan To-Day: Some Insights, July 2011, Vol. VII no. 27


  • English, Fluent (IELTS 8.5)
  • French, Fluent
  • German, Intermediate
  • Italian, Mother Tongue

Affiliations & Conferences

  • since 2015: EADI, European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI)
  • since 2015: SSIA, Somali Studies International Association (SSIA)
  • since 2014: ASAI, Italian Association for African Studies (ASAI)
  • “Africa on the Move”, 17 – 20 September 2014, Macerata, Italy
  • “4th PhD Conference on International Development 24 - 25 September 2015” Ruhr-University Bochum, Bochum/Germany