Faculty of Humanities

Alessandra Benedicty-Kokken is Senior Researcher/ Research Coordinator at the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen’s Research Center for Material Culture (NMVW-RCMC) and Lecturer in Gender Studies at Universiteit Utrecht. Her research on Haitian Vodou and notably embodied practices of being mounted or spirit possession pays attention to how those who travel in ways that are politically and/or economically motivated, in the words of Anne Margaret Castro privilege embodied mediumship as a means of navigating the extreme precarity and duress of migration. 

Reindert Dhondt is Assistant Professor of Hispanic Literature. His research focuses on identity discourse and memory in a transnational context, as well as on the representation of violence in Latin American literature. He is currently working on narratives of internally displaced persons in Colombia and on narratives of intra-American migration.

Margreet van Es works as an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Utrecht University, where she is affiliated to the research group Religious Matters in an Entangled World. She has conducted research on Islamophobia in Europe for many years, focusing especially on the various ways in which Muslims respond to stereotypes and other expressions of anti-Muslim racism. Her monograph Stereotypes and Self-Representations of Women with a Muslim Background: The Stigma of Being Oppressed was published with Palgrave Macmillan in 2016. She has also published articles in international journals such as Religion,  Ethnic and Racial Studies, Journal of Muslims in Europe, Religions, Nordic Journal of Religion and Society, and Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. Her current research focuses on trendy alcohol-free halal restaurants in Rotterdam through the lens of cosmopolitanism and belonging.

Helena Houvenaghel is a Professor in Humanities, in the Institute for Cultural Inquiry (ICON) and holds a Chair in Spanish Literature. Her research focuses on 20th-century refugees’ self-construal in their life-writings  Her starting point is the fact that critics read 20th-century refugee life-writings through the lens of either the country of origin, or the country of resettlement, while refugees’ identities are often rooted into different soil. She foregrounds the role that the ‘middle ground’ –in between the countries of origin and resettlement–  plays in 20th-century refugees’ self-construal. 

Liesbeth Rosen Jacobsen is a Lecturer in Economic and Social History. Her connection to migration and societal change stems from an interest in the consequences of decolonization for ‘in between’, or hybrid groups from the former colonies such as Eurasians (people of mixed ancestry) or Jews. They were often to a considerable degree affiliated with the status of the colonial powerholders and that’s why many of them decided to leave for the European mother countries after decolonization. Liesbeth is not only interested in the reasons for their migration but also in the repercussions, i.e. the increasing cultural diversity in Europe and the US after the Second World War and ongoing transnational links

Manpreet Janeja

Monica Jansen is Assistant Professor in Italian Literature at the Department of Languages, Literature and Communication (TLC). She teaches and researches in the field of transnational Italian studies with a focus on migrations and mobilities to and from Italy and, more generally, to the issues of labor precarity and postsecularism in literature and film. She has published on TV series on Italian labor migration in the 1950s and on webseries on Italians abroad.

Ewout van der Knaap is professor of German Literature and Culture, active in the field of memory studies and recently focuses on representations of migration and Europe in German literature and film.

Koen Leurs is an assistant professor in Gender and Postcolonial Studies at the Graduate Gender Program, Department of Media and Culture. He works on digital migration, and he was recently the principal investigator of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research-funded study “Young Connected Migrants. Comparing Digital Practices of Young Asylum Seekers and Expatriates in the Netherlands,” ('16-'19) and the Dutch National Research Agenda funded participatory action research project “Media literacy through Making Media: A Key to Participation for Young Newcomers.” ('17-'19). Most recently he co-edited the Sage Handbook of Media and Migration together with Kevin Smets, Saskia Witteborn, Myria Georgiou and Radhika Gajjala. Currently he is a fellow at the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Studies, writing the monograph Digital Migration (under contract with Sage). Next to this, he is the chair of the European Communication Research and Education (ECREA) Diaspora, Migration and the Media section.

Birgit Meyer is professor of Religious Studies. Trained in anthropology, she focuses on the ways in which religion is “lived” and takes material form. She chairs the research project Religious Matters in an Entangled World. Taking movement and mobility as central to religion, she seeks to “mobilize” theory so as to acknowledge historical and actual relations between people in various regions. Based on grounded, ethnographic work (on missions and conversion, one media and popular culture, on people and objects on the move between Africa and Europe) and conceptual reflection, she aims to contribute to further our insights into global entanglements beyond lingering forms of methodological and epistemological nationalism. Together with Peter van der Veer she just completed an edited volume titled Refugees and Religion. Ethnographic Studies of Global Trajectories (Bloomsbury, fc in April 2021).

Marco Mostert is Professor of Medieval History at Utrecht University. His work centres around the social history of communication, especially in the medieval period. He has an interest in communication between migrants and the society they find themselves in, and communication within groups of migrants. He hopes that, on occasion, research on migration in earlier periods may provide historical ‘thickness’ to research on present-day problems.

Jos Philips is an Assistant Professor in Political Philosophy and Ethics at Utrecht University’s Ethics Institute. He works on global justice and on sustainability, and participates in the Horizon-2020 project NoVaMigra. In 2020 he published Actualizing Human Rights: Global Inequality, Future People, and Motivation (Routledge, open access). Jos Philips is coordinator of the master Applied Ethics.

Sandra Ponzanesi is Chair and Professor of Media, Gender and Postcolonial Studies, at the Department of Media and Culture Studies, Utrecht University, NL. Her expertise is media, gender and postcolonial critique from a comparative, intersectional and interdisciplinary perspective. Her research areas include postcolonial theory, digital migration studies, transnational feminist theory,  postcolonial cinema and conflict studies among others. She is founder and director of the PCI (Postcolonial Studies Initiative) an international research platform that explores issues of mobility and migration from a postcolonial perspectives. Sandra is the PI of the ERC Project CONNECTINGEUROPE Digital Crossings in Europe: Gender, Diaspora and Belonging.

Leonard V. Rutgers is Professor of Late Antiquity and holds the Chair in Ancient History and Classical Civilization at Utrecht University. His research focuses on the archaeology of the Jewish Diaspora in Europe and the Mediterranean during ancient and early medieval times, and on the history of Jewish-Christian relations.  Leonard is currently directing a large European consortium that studies the history of migration and group interrelatedness in Europe during the Roman and medieval periods through a combined historical/cultural and archaeo-genetic (ancient DNA) approach.

Pooyan Tamimi Arab is Assistant Professor of religious studies. He combines political philosophy with cultural anthropology and focuses on material religion – buildings, sounds, images, food - to study the dynamics of diversity. Pooyan has been awarded a VENI grant 'Pictures that Divide' to research contested visual cultures.

From 2015 until 2018, Milica was Research Assistant in the ERC project Bodies Across Borders: Oral and Visual Memory in Europe and Beyond; she conducted ethnographic research and interviews with individuals with a migration background in the Netherlands. The results of this research project have recently been published in the book The Mobility of Memory: Migrations and Diasporas in Europe and BeyondMilica’s research interests are centered on notions of nationhood, belonging, migration and postcolonial and postsocialist transitions in Europe. 

Eva-Maria Troelenberg's main fields of interest include cultural exchange and the larger modern Mediterranean; canon and canon critique; museum theory and the history of collecting and exhibitions in a cross-cultural context; the historiography and reception of Islamic art and Islamicate aesthetics in the colonial and postcolonial age; migrations, object-biographies and cross-cultural heritage

She is currently involved in the project 'Immediacy and Agency: connecting material, visual and intellectual approaches to migration'. This project addresses a constant dilemma of migration studies in the humanities: they are inevitably bound to the social and to the epistemic frameworks of our academic disciplines.The projects aims to challenge the paradigms and practices of academic knowledge by considering migration as a destabilizing, but also epistemically productive category at the intersections of material, visual and intellectual practices of knowledge-making.

Manuela Pinto is a linguist with expertise in second language acquisition, psycholinguistics, and intercultural communication. In her teaching and in her research, she combines the rigour of her linguistic theoretical background with practical, tangible goals that may make a difference in the real world.

She is PI in the project Nederlands voor Alle Kinderen, partly crowd founded and partly supported by refugees and migrant organisations. The aim of NvAK is to create a tool that tracks and measures second language development in young newcomers (refugees, asylum-seekers, work migrants), while considering both linguistic and extra-linguistic factors typical of this population. At present, no such an instrument is available to measure the linguistic progress of these children. See.

Manuela also believes in the importance of community engaged learning (CEL). In her teaching, she addresses societal issues requiring linguistic expertise while having her students practice in providing theory-informed analyses and solutions. In collaboration with Monica Jansen, she conducted two CEL projects within the curriculum of Italian Studies (UU): Heritage Storytelling and Bidirectional Storytelling. Both projects were granted seed money from the Humanities (UU) and were conceived as a collaboration between migrant organizations, students and teachers/researchers. The results of these two CEL-projects (four short documentaries and a podcast series) can be found on the website of the course Migrazioni al plurale