For visiting fellow Sara de Jong interdisciplinary research is essential

Twee mannen zitten op een berg in Afghanistan ©
Afghanistan ©

Sara de Jong (University of York) is visiting fellow at Utrecht University until mid-March. She is currently researching the protection and rights of Afghan interpreters, who worked for various Western armies during the war in Afghanistan. She advised the Dutch House of Representatives on this issue.

Multidisciplinary collaboration

Dr. Sara de Jong. Foto: Alex Holland
Dr Sara de Jong. Photo: Alex Holland

De Jong is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of York. She is here in the context of Institutions for Open Societies (IOS): one of the university's strategic themes, which focuses on interdisciplinary academic work on freedom, justice, and democracy.

De Jong’s work itself requires her to cooperate with various disciplines to achieve results: “I have to deal with many different stakeholders, from NGOs to journalists, politicians, and Afghans themselves. As a result, I also have to communicate about my research in many different ways, from short briefings to an exhibition I worked on with a photographer.”

She draws on her interdisciplinary way of working during her visit to Utrecht. “During these weeks, I would like to discuss how we as researchers can do engaged research in this day and age. Research that can expose wrongdoing, influence policy, and lead to awareness of certain issues among the wider public.”

Research on the importance of cultural mediators in conflict 

Meanwhile, Sara de Jong is working on a new academic book on cultural mediators: mediators who move between different groups and worlds in the context of conflict and migration. “We often focus on groups opposing each other, rather than on the people who were and are deployed in colonial and post-colonial times, to translate and negotiate between different groups.”

“This powerful but also difficult role of intermediary and interpreter comes up in many different disciplines, from sociology to literature, so these weeks I hope to be able to exchange further thoughts on this with UU scholars too.”

link to interview with Sara de Jong in Buitenhof (NPO1, August 29 2021)
Prof. dr. Bruce Mutsvairo. Foto: Kees Gort
Professor Bruce Mutsvairo. Photo: Kees Gort

Important visit in the context of international cooperation

Professor of Media and Cultural Studies Bruce Mutsvairo invited Sara de Jong as a visting fellow. He is pleased with her arrival and sees many opportunities in further cooperation. “If you look at Sara de Jong’s work, you can see that it is at the intersection of social sciences and humanities.”

“Sara is someone who builds bridges across disciplines and that in itself is very valuable to the university. Her work has social impact and her research is interdisciplinary: she combines the worlds of humanities and social sciences in her research.”

Sara de Jong adds: “Although I am mainly a social scientist, most of my contacts are in the Department of Media and Cultural Studies. The strategic themes of Utrecht University establish and secure bonds between different disciplines, so I hope to expand my interdisciplinary network further.”

Lectures by Sara de Jong

Sara de Jong will give a lecture at a meeting of the Gender, Diversity and Global Justice on 2 March. In addition, on 6 March, she will give a seminar for Contesting Governance: Invisible Men, The Injured Lives of Afghan Interpreters.

Download the programme for the 6 March seminar