Marco Gemignani, Ph.D.Associate Professor
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
204 Rockwell Hall
Education:Ph.D., Counseling Psychology, University of Florida, 2005
M.A., Clinical and Community Psychology, Universita' di Padova (Italy), 1998
In my sophomore year as an undergrad psychology major, I was so bored that I seriously considered changing major. I could not stand any longer mechanistic attempts to explain human behaviors in terms of variables, rules, and statistics. I kept wondering about the "human" and "humane" sides of psychology, which were missing from the courses I was taking. When elderly people were asked about the most important thing in their lives, the vast majority of them answered "love" (in different styles and targets). "Love" was never mentioned in my psychology courses and textbooks.
My "savior" was a renown professor of Psychology of Personality who talked passionately about constructivism and phenomenology. Finally I found an orientation to psychology that embraces personal meanings and celebrates the uniqueness of each individual.
After reading a newly-published book on constructivist psychotherapy in my senior undergraduate year, I wrote an email to the book's author - Dr. Franz Epting. To my surprise, he replied to my email and invited me to meet him at a constructivist conference in Berlin. The following year, in 2000, I was admitted to the Ph.D. program in Counseling Psychology at the University of Florida and Dr. Epting became my advisor and mentor.
The next critical moment was when I was selected for a summer fellowship from the Coca-Cola Foundation. I went to Belgrade, Serbia where I worked with an international NGO to provide field assessment and assistance to refugees from the Balkans' War. Since this experience, working with refugees and migrants has become a central aspect of my profession.
Joining the Psychology Dept. at Duquesne University was a dream come true. This is one of the few departments in the world that explicitly sees psychology as a human science dedicated to meanings, interpretations, cultures, critical thinking, and qualitative research. At Duquesne, I nurtured my focus on refugee and migration studies. I now collaborate with numerous community organizations to provide service, assessment, therapy, and research with migrants. In 2011, I founded the Psychological Services for Spanish-Speakers in the Psychology Clinic at Duquesne.
Border-crossing / Migration / Displacement
Identity / Subjectivity
Narrative Inquiry and Psychotherapy
My research focuses on psychological and cultural aspects of border crossing, displacement, acculturation, and identity construction. My interests in multiculturalism, social constructionism, and discourse develop through the exploration of the role that narratives have in the construction of personal, social, and cultural realities. Specifically, my research takes up a number of psycho-social processes and categories that scholars in different social disciplines have long studied, such as power, culture, memory, subjectivity, psychological place & space, home, migratory processes, trauma , acculturation, and mental health. I examine both the relations of these aspects with the psychology of individuals, groups and communities and the ways in which these phenomena or processes come to be true for individuals and their psycho-social worlds. I therefore analyze the inevitable and yet quite neglected interplays between personal and discursive (i.e., social, cultural, linguistic, political) domains of action. The use of postmodern, constructionist, and narrative perspectives allows me to elaborate new and more compound views of the experience of border crossing, cultural adjustment, and humanitarian assistance.
My expertise is in the following fields and specialty areas:
- Migration studies, especially on the links among migration, identity, mental health, and psychological wellbeing
- Psychological, social, and cultural dimensions of trauma and its remembering
- Qualitative research methodologies, especially those of phenomenological, constructionist, and post-structural inspiration
- Narrative and constructivist psychology and psychotherapy
I regularly teach the following courses:
Psychology and Social Engagement: In this service-learning course, Psychology seniors work closely with recently-arrived refugees. Students learn concepts and theories of community psychology, migration studies, identity, and refugee mental health. This course is a unique opportunity to collaborate with refugee individuals to actively facilitate their cultural integration and to celebrate their cultural identity.
Introduction to Psychology (Personae Learning Community): In this course, students get their feet wet with the polyhedral field of scientific psychology. In addition to learn from lectures and readings, students will provide meaningful service-learning in which they will apply concepts and ideas learned in class.
Introduction to Qualitative Research (Ph.D. program in Clinical Psychology): Through this course, students are exposed to a range of research approaches and traditions in qualitative psychology. Specific attention is dedicate, first, to explore the relational and power-based nature of knowledge creation and, second, to promote skills and interpretations that link qualitative inquiry and the practice of clinical psychology.
Less regularly, I teach Brain, Behavior, and Cognition and Psychology of Personality. I also proposed a new, special-topic course for Spring 2012, titled "Psychological Aspects of Migration
Gemiganani, M. (2013). The fatigue of compassionate service learning: A qualitative case study in community psychology. Partnerships: A journal of Service Learning & Civic Engagement, 3, 59-84.
Gemignani, M. & Giliberto, M. (2012). A Historical, Cultural, and Indigenous Perspective on Counseling and Psychotherapy in Italy. In R. Moodley, U. Gielen, and R. Wu (Eds.), Handbook of counseling and psychotherapy in an international context. NY: Routledge
Gemignani, M. (2011). Between researcher and researched: An introduction to counter-transference in qualitative inquiry. Qualitative Inquiry, 17, 701-708.
Gemignani, M. (2011). 'The past if past:- The use of memories and self-healing narratives in refugees from the former Yugoslavia. Journal of Refugee Studies, 24, 132-156.
Koro-Ljungberg, M., Gemignani, M., Chaplin, S., Hayes, S., & Hsieh, I. H. (2009). 'Mission Civilisatrice-: Fixing scientific evidence and other practices of neo-colonialism in social sciences. International Review of Qualitative Research, 4, 491-513.
Gemignani, M. & Pena, E. (2007-2008). Postmodern conceptualizations of culture in social constructionism and cultural studies. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology: Special issue on cultural theorizing, 27-28, 276-300.
Koro-Ljungberg, M., Gemignani, M., Brodeur C. A., & Kmiec C. (2007). Technologies of normalization and self: Thinking about IRBs and extrinsic research ethics with Foucault. Qualitative Inquiry, 13, 1075-1094.
Gemignani, M. & Giliberto, M. (2005). Counseling and psychotherapy in Italy: A profession in constant change. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 27, 168-184.
Invited contributions (peer-reviewed by editors)
Gemignani, M. (2010). The Chinese woman who wanted to lose her accent. In Trotter, M. J., Koch, J. M., Sanger, S. & Skovholt, T. M. (Eds.), Voices from the field: Defining moments in counselor development. New York: Routledge.
Neimeyer, G. & Gemignani, M. (2006). Social constructionism. In J. H. Greenhaus & G. A. Callanan (Eds.), Encyclopedia of career development (pp. 754-756). London, UK: Sage.
Gemignani, M. (2003). Multiculturalism and reification of culture. In G. Chiari & M. L. Nuzzo (Eds.), Psychological constructivism and the social world (pp. 44-58). Torino, Italy: Franco Angeli.
Epting, F. R., Gemignani, M., & Cross, M. C. (2003). An audacious adventure: Personal Construct counseling and psychotherapy. In F. Fransella (Ed.), International handbook of Personal Construct Psychology (pp. 237-345). Chichester, UK: Wiley.
Gemignani, M. (1999). The importance of language in constructivist epistemology. In J. M. Fisher & D. J. Savage (Eds.), Beyond experimentation into meaning (pp. 59-71). Farnborough, UK: EPCA Publications.