How can bottom-up pedagogical programmes restore mismatches between (minority) families and social services? How can professionals find empowerment in their work with families in face of neoliberal social policies? What role do parenthood, religiosity and citizenship play in families’ experience of belonging in present-day changing societies? And how can inclusive interventions effectively tackle processes of othering and polarizing inter-group dynamics in education? These are just some of the questions I aim to answer with my research. I’m a social pedagogue and transcultural researcher, trainer and family counsellor investigating inclusive societies and building on this knowledge with families, professionals, organisations and policy makers.
Having grown up in the ’80s-‘90s political squatting movement in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, my work with youth, families and professionals is clearly marked by an interest in civic self-organizing efforts that take place outside of, or on the edges of institutional infrastructures. Departing from this awareness, I study how political societal dynamics manifest themselves in the contexts of family, social work and education and how people’s sense of (contested) belonging and intergroup relations directs processes of collective learning, friction, and collaboration. Studying society from the perspectives and experiences of youth and families, the pedagogical sciences offer an important lens to investigate how macro prosesses such as migration, globalisation and inter-group power dynamics transform and are being transformed in daily practices of socializing societies' new generations.
Schooled as a social pedagogue in migration contexts at Utrecht University and Malmo University, my conceptualizations of how families and professionals experience parenthood, citizenship, diversity and processes of in- and exclusion are characterized by a multiplicity of perspectives. These include inclusive pedagogy, sociocultural learning theory, post-colonial perspectives and critical citizenship studies, among other. My research projects involve educational intervention evaluations in combination with an ethnographic approach as well as contextual methods such as social network mapping and context visualisations.
This has first been developed in my PhD study (part of the ZonMw funded project ‘Shabab van Nu!’), which provides insight into how Moroccan-Dutch mothers and fathers engage in neighbourhood-based learning communities through their participation in a bottom-up organized and intercultural parenting support programme; how these parents use their plural sense of belonging to direct learning dynamics and create 'glocalized' practices; how they negotiate parenthood and citizenship in face of their contested belonging to society; and how 'access', knowledge creation and gains are negotiated between the university researchers and parent groups in this project.
In the independent action research-based project ‘Het Beschermjassenhuis’ I explore how a learning community is formed among families and professionals within institutionalized social services and how both families and professionals find empowerment in contexts of neoliberal social work policy.
As part of the UNION project I work on a literature review of interventions studies targeting processes of othering and polarization in education. The main research question involves which scientific knowledge is available and how it can be used to work with these political dynamics in the classroom.
Impact and valorisation
Over the recent years I have shared my research and expertise through (award winning) presentations on several (inter)national conferences (e.g. EARLI, ERNAPE and ISCAR) and seminars, as well as through the coordination of UU-based special research interest groups (e.g. Social & Cultural Issues, Qualitative Data Sessions and the interdisciplinairy PhD writing peer group 'Agraphia'). As part of my academic service I am an active peer reviewer for the international scientific journals Learning, Culture and Social Interaction and Child & Family Social work.
As a means to make the findings of the ‘Shabab van Nu!’ project on bottom-up and intercultural parenting support widely available, we have published a booklet and poster for parents, professionals and policy makers. In collaboration with ZonMw and the Verwey-Jonkerinstituut the findings of this project, among those of other 'bottom-up' research projects, have contributed to the creation of an online and off-line tool for policy makers, professionals and clients to open up conversations about the meanings, needs, expectations and limitations of empowerment as part of social work. My study of the work model ‘Het Beschermjassenhuis’ has served as input for a popular book release about this way of working ('Beschermjassen in de praktijk'). In addition, over the years I am actively involved with networks, advisory boards and training programmes of social organizations (including Home-Start, Stichting BMP, Stichting Attanmia, Bureau Beschermjassen, Don’t Hit Mama) who make efforts to facilitate bottom-up youth and family initiatives and bridge mismatches between families and institutions.
Read my interview with Queester (in Dutch) about my involvement with the ‘Shabab van Nu!’ project.