About UsSoledad Álvarez Velasco

Former Junior Professor of “Migration and the Americas”

Affiliation: Heidelberg Center for Ibero-American Studies - HCIAS
Co-operation: Faculty of Chemistry and Earth Sciences, Institute of Geography, and Heidelberg Center for American Studies - HCA

Email: soledad.alvarez(at)uni-heidelberg.de 

Soledad Álvarez Velasco holds a PhD in Human Geography from King’s College London, a Master’s degree in Social Anthropology from the Universidad Iberoamericana (Mexico), and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the Universidad San Francisco (Quito, Ecuador).

Before joining the HCIAS in September 2021, she was a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Comparative Cultural Studies at the University of Houston (February 2020 – August 2021).

Jun.-Prof. Dr. Soledad Alvarez Velasco

She is a member of the Critical Geography Collective of Ecuador, a collective of geographers, social scientists, and activists concerned with answering theoretical and practical questions about growing territorial tensions in Ecuador; of the Grupo de Trabajo (GT): "Fronteras: movilidades, identidades y comercios", Latin American Council of Social Sciences; and of Colectiva Infancia, an international research network specialized in children migration across the Americas. In 2018, Colectiva Infancia, won a grant from the National Geographic Foundation to develop the bilingual multimedia project "Children On The Move: An Ethnographic Mosaic of the Americas".

She is a member of the editorial team of the journal Refugees and Conflict, of the Latin-American journal Periplos, specialized in migration research, and founder and co-coordinator of the transnational digital project "(Im)Mobilities in the Americas and COVID-19".


Soledad Álvarez Velasco’s research analyses the interrelationship between mobility, control, and spatial transformations across the Americas. She focuses on the intersection between undocumented south-north transit migration, border control regimes, the formation of migratory corridors across the Americas, and the migrant struggle across these transnational spaces.

Her research draws from perspectives in critical geography, critical migration and border studies, and feminist political geography. It combines a multi-scale and historical analysis with multi-sited ethnography and a digital ethnography based on a migrant-centered perspective to reconstruct migrants’ spatial and temporal trajectories. Her research foregrounds the Andean Region, particularly Ecuador, as a key space for understanding the dynamics at stake in the transits of Latin American, Caribbean, African and Asian migrants to the U.S. Her work also analyzes how the externalization of U.S. border enforcement policies in South American states, together with the inconsistencies in their own national migration policies, serve a systemic global formation of selective mobility control. She also studies the irregularized movement of unaccompanied migrant children who transit through the extended corridor connecting South America with Mexico and the U.S., as well as the transnational smuggling networks operating across it, and the physical and digital infrastructures involved in facilitating that movement across migratory corridors in the continent.

Research in Progress

  • Book project: Mobility, Control, and the Production of Space in Ecuador (2023) to be published by Routledge, London, as part of Border Regions Series. The book examines and answers this question: What are the dynamics at work in the production of Ecuador as a global space of undocumented migratory transits toward the U.S.? Based on historical and ethnographic research focused on the lived and digital everyday struggles of Caribbean, Middle Eastern, and African migrants, as well as Ecuadorean deportees – all undocumented migrants in transit from Ecuador to the United States – this book analyses the past and present of the production of Ecuador as a global space of transit and platform for illegalized migration arising from the unsolved tensions between human mobility and the politics of control. It also zooms in into the so-called “post-neoliberal” period of Ecuador’s “Citizen’s Revolution” government (2007-2017), when the country adopted an utterly progressive constitution in migration matters. However, as the book demonstrates in the country of alleged “universal citizenship,” the unsolved historical tension between mobility and control is far from being solved, and the effects of the U.S. externalized control regime southwards are paradoxically present reinforcing Ecuador’s condition as a global space of transit and migrant smuggling. The book contributes with an analysis of an understudied case of a global space of transit in the Americas.
  • Mobilities, Control and Spatial Struggles across the Americas in a (post) pandemic context: Based upon the findings of the digital transnational trilingual project (Im)mobility in the Americas and COVID-19, which compares the dynamics of mobility and control across 19 countries (Canada, the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil) her research will deepen how the pandemic has brought:
    • spatial and temporal interconnections between northbound and southbound migratory corridors across the Americas;
    • the aftermaths of the devastation of migrants’ living conditions and the exacerbation of undocumented transits through both corridors;
    • regional socio-economic and political pressure that these transits place on societies and States along both migratory corridors;
    • new ways in which the U.S. externalizes its borders across the Americas;
    • reinforcement of the heterogeneous Latin American migratory control regime and its damaging effects on the migrant population; and
    • forms of migrant resistance and survival during crossing and waiting times in a highly hostile, racist and xenophobic environment.


Summer Semester 2022

  • Cultures of Diaspora across Ibero-America
  • Migration, Border Regimes and Language Identity: Theories, Methodologies and Current Debates

HCIAS Course Catalog Summer Semester 2022


Dr. Soledad Álvarez Velasco

Heidelberg Center for Ibero-American Studies - HCIAS
Brunnengasse 1 69117, Heidelberg
Email: soledad.alvarez(at)uni-heidelberg.de