My ethnographic work has evolved around the role and experience of im/mobility in people’s lives, in Central America and elsewhere. More specifically, I have focused on families’ cross-border labour and carework; migrant trajectories and illegalization; and the interplay between displacement and emplacement. Theoretically and methodologically, I build on anthropology, feminist geography and critical development studies. I hold a MA in Development Studies (with Cultural Anthropology) from Radboud University Nijmegen, a MA in Latin American Studies from the University of Amsterdam, and a PhD in Development Studies from the University of Antwerp.
After my MA research on gendered violence in Belize City, for which I received the MA Thesis Award ‘Gerrit Huizer’ in 2007, and subsequent MA research with Central American migrants, my PhD research further explored topics of migration and im/mobility in Central America. The research took translocal Nicaraguan livelihoods as its starting point and showed the relevance of integrating a diversity of highly differentiated migration experiences for understanding migration-development dynamics. The ethnographic research consisted of multi-sited and multi-method fieldwork, including social mappings and a survey. It also built on a yearlong financial diaries project, in collaboration with research and development institute Nitlapan of the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in Managua. Focusing on asymmetric cross-border interdependencies (regional and international) and the livelihood dimensions of carework, ‘illegality’ and remittances, the thesis offered a comprehensive and contextually sensitive understanding of access to mobility and its implications for individual and family well-being.
Before joining ISS in September 2020, I worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Utrecht University on the 'Lost in Migration' project, focusing on migrant skills in the Dutch carework sector. As a researcher at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (Germany), I subsequently co-developed the project African trajectories across Central America: displacements, transitory emplacements, and ambivalent migration nodesOpens external, funded by the German Research Foundation. This project addresses the entwined im/mobilities of African and Caribbean migrants who traverse Central American countries in an attempt to reach North America, situating their experiences in a context of globe-spanning migration ‘crises’, regimes and industries. In particular, the project asks to what extent novel conceptualizations of the displacement/emplacement dialectic can be applied to differentiated, drawn-out and volatile migrant trajectories. It builds on a multi-sited ethnographic approach to explore the ambivalent, locally embedded dynamics of displacement and im/mobility, paying specific attention to migrants’ temporary experiences of emplacement in border communities marked by marginalization and state intervention. Conceptually and geographically, the project enriches pressing debates about both migrant journeys and 'transit' regions across and beyond the so-called Global South. Methodologically, the project addresses the challenge of 'following' migrants across time and space.
At ISS, I will further develop my research on migrant journeys and other trajectories of im/mobility within communities characterized by translocal linkages, securitization dynamics, and (informal) humanitarian initiatives, with the aim of contributing to critical innovations in migration-development nexus thinking.
In addition, I enjoy integrating my research experience with an interdisciplinary approach to teaching migration and multimethods courses. I also co-organize the Migration Research Seminar Series and the Development Research Series at ISS. I welcome PhD students with an interest to work on issues related to the topics above.