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.
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.