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  • European Commission | Brussels | Expert | 2020-03-03 - present

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I am an ethnographer with a multidisciplinary background in sociology, human geography and anthropology. I believe in the power of ethnographic methods to understand complex situations. I specialise in international migration, and applied research to support innovation in different professional fields from development and humanitarianism, to sustainable energy.


I have spent 20+ years researching how migrants live their lives across multiple worlds, promoting change and development in their home and host countries. My most recent research focuses on the involvement of civil society in migration governance, from grassroots activism, to volunteering, to NGO and humanitarian assistance. On these issues, I conduct fieldwork in Italy and supervise research in Italy, Greece, the Netherlands and Turkey. My past work has focused, among others, on migration and development policymaking and practice; return migration; migrant transnationalism between Africa and Europe.  


From my ethnographic approach to research and my work among migrants I have learned that innovation requires stepping out of our comfort zone by experiencing and engaging with different worlds. Alongside migration-related work, I carry this insight into research collaborations with partners outside academia. I have undertaken assignments for the European Commission, United Nations, intergovernmental agencies, NGOs as well as industry companies in the energy sector. In these collaborations, I use ethnography to address complex challenges by asking questions, listening, organizing information in a coherent narrative and telling otherwise unseen stories. People I have collaborated with say I helped them reframe problems in a new light. 


I welcome students interested in migrant reception, border controls, return migration, as well as students wanting to conduct research (on migration or in other fields) in collaboration with external organizations/companies. 


I joined the Social and Cultural Anthropology Department at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in 2014. Prior to this and after obtaining a PhD in comparative urban studies in 2006, I held positions at the University of Milan-Bicocca (Italy), Université Cheikh Anta Diop (Senegal), the London School of Economics and Goldsmiths College (UK), the International Institute of Social Studies (Erasmus University, Netherlands). Before making research my passion, I was an international development and humanitarian practitioner in Africa and Asia.


I am a member of: African Studies Centre community (Leiden University); EASA Applied Anthropology network; IMI African Migrations Researcher Directory; IMISCOE Demi migration experts database. I am also a board member of the Dutch Anthropologists' Association (ABv).


  • GN Anthropology
  • migration
  • diaspora
  • governance
  • mobility
  • citizenship
  • humanitarianism
  • development
  • co-creation
  • people-centred design
  • ethnography
  • health care policy
  • Safety


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