In this proposal I set out to build on my docotral work on the integration process activated by Article 18 of the italian immigration law, by looking at a particular aspect of the protection programmes for victims of trafficking: the Voluntary Assisted Re patriation (VAR) of victims of trafficking.
To analyse cases of VAR in Italy, and in particular those cases targeted for victims of trafficking, would offer a good vantage point from which to investigate on themes which have permeated my research work and interests over the past ten years, namely issues of consent and choice within migratory processes, construction of victimhood and representations of the Other within the trafficking discourse. VAR programmes have attracted some attention in the literatur e as one way to promote legality in the field of migration, to discourage criminal activities associated with trafficking and smuggling of human beings, and to enhance the development of local communities through the transfer of skills from the destinatio n country to the country of origin. While this study will stimulate the debate on the links between return migration and development, its main purpose is to explore the meaning of VAR from the point of view of actors working in social protection programme s run under Article 18 provisions. In particular, I intend to look at how the actors in charge of the repatriation process contruct these programmes and their beneficiaries, what is their assessment about the success of such repatriation projects in bring ing about the returnee's welfare in social and economic terms.
Qualitative research methods based on in-depth interviews with key actors and field observation will be triangulated with literature review and primary and secondary source data. Findings shou ld unveil the complexity of the decision making process behind VAR projects and thus problematize the voluntary element in those projects.