Sanda specialises in material culture of migration with a focus on transnational practices in migrant families in Eastern Europe and the UK. Her research is at the intersection of migration studies and anthropology of everyday life, looking at connections across borders, embodied in parcel exchanges via private van companies.
Based on fieldwork in the Republic of Moldova and across the UK, she investigates the relationship between people and objects underpinning family strategies, shared practices like commensality enabled by parcel exchange, and the role of parcel van companies as agents of migrant infrastructure.
From a relational point of view, she explores how migrants and their families left behind negotiate distance, strengthening familial ties by exchanging a variety of objects and foodstuffs using weekly parcel shipments via private couriers. In turn, this object exchange enables transnational families to engage in practices like sharing family meals or shopping together despite physical distance. Moreover, these practices evolve over time, pointing to migrants’ changing levels of embeddedness and strategies of navigating uncertainty.
From an infrastructural point of view, she uncovers the central role of couriers as agents active within the nexus of migrant networks that constantly expand and change, reflecting changes and trends in migrants’ life trajectories. She looks at temporal and cyclical aspects of parcel-sending, indicative of milestones in migrants’ lives, and explores how parcel vans, as vehicles of sociality, harness migrant networks to link people and locales.
As part of her research, Sanda actively engages with migrants, their families, couriers, and policymakers, facilitating a dialogue between various stakeholders, including diaspora representatives and the Moldovan state. Moving away from general trends and economic aspects of migration, her research helps bring into focus the human experience of living across borders.