Workshop: Sensing the Postcolonial Migrant Body

Photo credit: dr. Manpreet K. Janeja, Amsterdam 5. November 2022

The workshop Sensing the Postcolonial Migrant Body funded by the Utrecht University Focus Area Migration & Societal Change seed grant awarded to Dr Manpreet K. Janeja will take place on 2nd of December 2022.

This workshop explores societal changes as mediated through sensory transformations of gendered postcolonial bodies in migrant-receiving urban landscapes. Cities as diverse as Amsterdam, London, and Delhi, are increasingly characterized by sensory contact zones that are operated by, and cater to, specific migrant and diaspora communities. Such proliferating ‘new contact zones’ act as interfaces of sensory and bodily transformations, and are integral to the (re)making of migrant identities, desired futures and forms of co-existence. Inviting contributions that explore sensory approaches and methodologies in the anthropology of migration, the workshop highlights how the body becomes integral to the articulation and manifestation of hybridized and contested identities that criss-cross realms of the regional and (trans)national in (post)colonial centres of power.

Workshop programme:

9:00 – 9:15 – Welcome & Introduction Dr Manpreet K. Janeja (Utrecht University)

Session 1: Chair/Discussant: Professor Martijn Oosterbaan (Utrecht University)

9:15 – 10:00:    Sensational Religious Practice: Hope, Desire, and Future Making Among African Migrant Pentecostal Congregation in Berlin, Germany (Dr Murtala Ibrahim, Utrecht University)

10:00 – 10:45:  Tales of “Good Indian hair”: Africa-India Migrations, Hair, and Urbanism in Delhi, India (Dr Bani Gill, Tuebingen University)

10:45 – 11:00:   Coffee break

11:00 – 11:45:  ‘People Out of Place’: Seeing, Sensing, and Making Illegalized Residents in the Netherlands (Arantxa Ortiz, Brandeis University)

11:45 – 12:30:   Lunch

Session 2: Chair/Discussant: Professor Fenella Fleischmann (Amsterdam University)

12:30 – 13:15:  Whose Body? Zwarte Piet as a Secular Sacred (Dr Markus Balkenhol, Meertens Institute)

13:15-14:00:     Decolonizing the Turing Machine (Dr Rodrigo Ochigama, Leiden University)

14:00-14:15:     Coffee break

Session 3: Chair/Discussant: Professor Birgit Meyer (Utrecht University)

14:15-15:00:     Making Hijra Through the Belly: Food Practices and Religious Transformation Among Muhajirat in Morocco (Dr Nina ter Laan, Cologne University)

15:00 – 15:45: Olfactory Othering, Sensual Belonging, and the ‘Smelly Immigrant Trope’ in Berlin (Professor Claudia Liebelt, Freie University Berlin)

15:45 – 16:15: Discussion & Wrap-up Dr Manpreet K. Janeja (Utrecht University)

16:15 – 17:15:   Drinks Reception

Start date and time
End date and time
Sweelinckzaal, Room 0.05, Drift 21
Entrance fee
Free to attend

Please register before November 21 by sending an email to