Naiara is part of the European Joint Doctorate MOVES project. Her project explores unfulfilled migration aspirations in high-income countries. While research often highlights unfulfilled aspirations in developing settings, the Gallup World Poll data suggests that there are also unfulfilled aspirations in developed countries. Naiara’s research project explores the relation between migration aspirations, capabilities and the migratory decision-making process in Spain. She focuses on how developmental processes have historically shaped motility and mobility processes in Spain. In this manner, her research investigates how various social forces influence the capabilities and aspirations to migrate of individuals, how such potentiality turns into actual migration, and the adaptation strategies of those that aspire and have the capabilities for migration but do not materialize their desires into actual mobility. She is particularly interested in understanding the role of the state in the transition from motility to mobility.

Naiara holds a BA in International Relations from the University of Deusto, Spain (2017), a MSc in Migration and Ethnic studies from the University of Amsterdam (UvA), the Netherlands (2018, cum laude), as well as a MSc in Political Economy (UvA; 2019, cum laude). Her studies have focused on migration dynamics, the intersection between migration, sexuality and race, and the interplay between broad processes of social transformation and migration dynamics. During her stay at the UvA, she was part of the Migration as Development (MADE) project. While at MADE, she conducted research on how transformation in a rural, frontier Brazilian town affected its migration dynamics and socio-economic structure, which has informed the direction of her current project. Currently, in addition to her doctoral research, she lectures on migration and sociology at UBIS University (Switzerland).

Her research interests include the role that states play in migration –in particular, perspectives on emigration and circulation movements and non-migration policies-, the relation between broader processes of change and migration dynamics, and the adaptation mechanisms followed by migration and return processes.

E-mail: nr320 (at)


Naiara Rodríguez Peña. “State Expansion, Development Imaginaries and Mobility in a Peripheral Frontier: the Case of Caracaraí, Brazil.” IMI Working Paper Series, vol. 165, International Migration Institute, 25 June 2020.

Conference Presentations

Naiara Rodríguez Peña. “Getting Support Through Migration: Overcoming the (Hetero)Sexualization of Migrant Networks.” SOAS: Contested Boundaries and the Boundaries of Contestation, 8 September 2020.

Naiara Rodríguez Peña. “The state as a provider and migration in a peripheral frontier: The case of Caracaraí, Brazil.” KNAW Colloquium, 16-18 October, 2019.

Naiara Rodríguez Peña. “Moving between (im)mobility categories: The importance of social platforms for migration aspirations and migration capabilities.” IMISCOE Spring Conference, 22-23 March 2021.

Other Activities

  • Naiara is an active member of the IMISCOE PhD Workshop group, which organizes activities for PhD candidates working in migration and mobility
  • She is currently lecturing at UBIS University