Dr Sonja Marzi

Dr Sonja Marzi

LSE Fellow in Qualitative Methods

Department of Methodology

Room No
CON 6.10
Office Hours
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English, German, Spanish
Key Expertise
Urban Mobility, Aspirations, Development, Participatory Research

About me

Dr Sonja Marzi is an LSE Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science in the Department of Methodology and an Associate Academic at the Latin America and Caribbean Centre. Her research is interdisciplinary and focuses on gendered urban challenges and inequalities in Colombia; cutting across the fields of Geography, Anthropology and Sociology. In particular, her research aims to push the boundaries of collaboration and participatory research designs under remote conditions, focusing on (re) conceptualising gendered urban challenges in Colombia. Building on cutting-edge methods of using audio-visual digital methods (e.g., film and video) to co-produce knowledge, her work centres the voices of made marginalised women and contributes to new understandings about their relationship to urban space. 

Research Interests

Currently Sonja’s research follows three lines of inquiry with a regional focus on Colombia.

Co-producing knowledge during emergencies and pandemics: developing remote participatory visual methods using smartphones

In her most recent research, funded by an Economic and Social Research Council Grant, Sonja is lead investigator to develop innovative remote participatory visual methods to co-produce knowledge about women’s urban challenges in Colombia. In collaboration with migrant women in Colombia, and researchers and filmmakers in the UK and Latin America, she applies participatory filming remotely, using participants’ smartphones, to investigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women’s gendered right to the city. The entire research process is conducted online. Co-investigators in this research project are Professor Rachel Pain and Dr Jen Tarr (both Newcastle University) and the community-focused production company Spectacle (UK). The team will be supported by the academic documentary filmmaker Maria Fernanda Carrillo Sanchez (UNAM, Mexico) and two independent local researchers in Medellin and Bogotá.

The ESRC project builds on insights from an LSE Knowledge Exchange and Impact Fund project: ‘Reinventada: the realities of women in Medellín during the pandemic’.

Migrant women in Medellín and their right to the city

Sonja’s second line of inquiry is funded by a Fritz-Thyssen Research Project Grant and investigates urban challenges for made marginalised women in relation to the use of urban space. By looking at how migrant women, especially mothers and heads of household, negotiate their ‘right to the city’ in urban areas in Colombia, the research aims at providing a greater understanding for their needs and aspirations within the city and for future urban development issues and processes.

Young People’s aspirations and socio-spatial mobility

Sonja’s previous PhD research has been concerned with the socio-spatial mobility and aspirations of young people in Colombia. With a focus on young people living in disadvantaged, stigmatised, and often violent, neighbourhoods in Cartagena, her research was particularly interested in understanding how the neighbourhood and (im)mobility within the neighbourhood and city influences social mobility opportunities and how young people negotiate their desired futures.


Methodologically Sonja is particularly interested in qualitative and participatory research and methods. Sonja is particularly interested in new and creative ways of doing participatory and co-production research from a distance. She has carried out ethnographic fieldwork in Colombia combining traditional qualitative methods such as in-depth interviews and focus groups with participatory mapping, guided tours, photography, and filming.

Expertise Details

Cities; Urban Inequality; Socio-Spatial Mobility; Aspirations; Youth; Gendered Right to the City; Development; Participatory and Qualitative Research; Colombia


Marzi, S. (2021). 'Participatory video from a distance: co-producing knowledge during COVID-19 using smartphones'. Qualitative Research

Marzi, S. (2021). 'Having money is not the essential thing…but…it gets everything moving’: Young Colombians navigating towards uncertain futures?' Sociological Research Online

Marzi, S. (2021). ‘Looking towards the future: Intersectionalities of race, class and place creating boundaries to young Colombians’ aspirations and social mobility’. In Horton, J., Pimlott-Wilson, H. and Hall, S.M. (eds) Growing up and getting by: poverty, precarity and the changing nature of childhood and youth. Bristol, Policy Press

Marzi, S. (2018). ‘We are labeled as gang members, like a dangerous barrio, even though we are not’: belonging, aspirations and social mobility in Cartagena'. Development Studies Research

Marzi, S. (2017). 'Childhood, youth and violence in global contexts: research and practice in dialogue'. Children's Geographies (Book Review)

Marzi, S. (2016). ‘Aspirations and Social Mobility: the role of social and spatial (im)mobilities in the development and achievement of young people’s aspirations’. In White, A. and Ni Laoire, C. (eds) Movement, Mobilities, and Journeys, Vol. 6 of Skelton, T. (ed.) Geographies of Children and Young People. Singapore, Springer