Vital Cities and Citizens

Researchers VCC

Inclusive Cities

  • Dr. Maria Schiller - Theme Lead

    Maria Schiller is an Assistant Professor for Public Policy, Migration and Diversity. Often comparative, her research investigates local responses to migration, focusing on governance relationships, municipal administrations and bureaucratic practice. Maria coordinates the LDE-Master program 'Governance of Migration and Diversity'.

  • Dr. Isabel Awad - Theme Lead

    Isabel Awad is an Associate Professor in Media and Communication. Paying close attention to local histories, actors, and politics, her work underscores the key role of communication in sustaining and challenging social inequalities. Isabel is the academic coordinator of the ‘Media, Culture and Society’ Master program.

  • Dr. Amanda Alencar (Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication) Associate Professor – Refugee settlement, place-making and digital technologies

    The research project of Dr. Amanda Alencar focuses on how digital technologies can be effectively and creatively employed by refugee and host community actors to enhance social inclusion in the cities of Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Her project was awarded the Stichting Erasmus Trustfonds. Amanda also coordinates a digital training programme for students with a refugee background as part of their preparatory 1-year program at Erasmus University Rotterdam.

  • Dr. Asya Pisarevskaya (Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences) Postdoctoral researcher - Cities of Migration

    The Postdoc project of Asya Pisarevskaya, Peter Scholten and Zeynep Kasli studies how migration-related diversity is manifested and governed on the local level. They examine the underlying mechanisms of this relationship. The researchers aim to write a book with the case studies of cities for each of the determined types of urban diversity.

  • Femke Vandenberg MA (Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication) PhD candidate - The aesthetic dispositions of popular music consumers

    Femke Vandenberg’s PhD project investigates the consumption of popular music in the Netherlands, with a focus on the audiences of nationally produced music. The project includes research topics such as cultural taste patterns, social class, social inequality, and the demonstration of nationalism through cultural consumption.

  • Dr. Giulia Evolvi (Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication) – Media & Communication

    Dr. Giulia Evolvi is a Lecturer in Media and Communication. Focusing on digital religion, her research explores religious change in Europe and the impact of digital communication on religious urban spaces and communities. In particular, she is interested in analyzing how Internet venues can both enhance and hinder the role of religion in public spaces.

  • Jasmin Seijbel (Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication) PhD candidate - Anti-Semitism and Football Supporters in the 21st Century

    As a PhD candidate at the Erasmus University Rotterdam Jasmin Seijbel works within the project Sport and Nation. Her PhD project involves educational programmes to prevent anti-Semitism in football stadiums. Jasmin collaborates with major stakeholders in the field, including the Fancoach project of Feyenoord and the Anne Frank House.

  • Dr. Jonathan Mijs (Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences) - UnEquality

    Jonathan Mijs is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow. His UnEquality project investigates what people think and feel about social inequality. The project's focus is on the tacit information, assumptions, and experiences underlying people's understanding of inequality.



  • Karen Klijnhout MSc (Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication) PhD candidate - Competing conceptions of city culture and cultural diversity - 

    Karen Klijnhouts PhD project studies the urban cultural public sphere, examining the connection between city culture and cultural diversity. The main questions of this study are: how are conceptions about city culture and cultural diversity combined in discourses and how do these discourses sustain or challenge the boundaries of the established, publicly supported urban arts and culture scene? 

  • Dr. Maja Hertoghs (Academic Researcher Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences) - Politics of (in)hospitality: queer tourists and queer refugees

    The PhD project of Maja Hertoghs focused on suspicion and affect in the closed world of the asylum procedure. This project extended into her postdoc research, in which focus lies on the contrasting ways in which queer tourists and (illegalized) queer refugees are ‘welcomed’ in cities branded as gay-paradise.

  • Dr. Mélodine Sommier (Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication) – Racial landscapes

    Dr. Mélodine Sommier works as an Assistant Professor in Intercultural Communication. Her research on “racial landscapes” focuses on the way race and racism materialize in everyday urban spaces in ways that contribute to (re)produce and contest existing discourses.

  • Miranda Lutz-Landesbergen MSc (Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences) PhD Candidate - Social stress, self-regulation and antisocial behaviour development - 

    The PhD project of Miranda C. Lutz examines the role of social stressors affecting the regulation of behaviour in children and adolescents. The goal is to answer whether deficits in the underlying mechanisms of self-regulation such as cognitive control lead to defiant social behaviour and determine how social stressors influence this relationship.

  • Dr. Norah Karrouche (Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication) - Oral history, migration and mobility

    Norah Karrouche specializes in global and oral history, and historical culture in Morocco and the Moroccan and Algerian diaspora. At Erasmus Studio, she is responsible for the integration of community oral history collections in the CLARIAH Media Suite

  • Dr. Otieno Ong’ayo (International Institute of Social Studies ) Postdoc Candidate - Transnational political engagement of African Diaspora communities

    Dr. Otieno Ong'ayo's research examines how Diaspora communities have (self-) organized transnationally between the country of residence  and various countries of origin in order to influence local policies. The research seeks to understand diaspora transnationalism (collective organizing, practices, diaspora civic agency and political remittances) and generated social transformation.

  • Tessa Visser MSc (Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences) PhD candidate - Talented Urban Youth

    The PhD project of Tessa Visser focuses on cultural and diversity and the transition from primary school to secondary school. Both qualitative and quantitative data are combined in a longitudinal effect study of an extracurricular intervention in primary school. Research topics include self-efficacy, parental involvement, and sense of belongingness.

  • Willemijn Bezemer MA (Erasmus School of Social and Behavourial Sciences) PhD Candidate - In search of trust: understanding and improving

    The goal of the PhD project of Willemijn Bezemer is to analyse the effectiveness of different policing strategies that are aimed to increase mutual trust between the police officer and the public. 

  • Dr. Zeynep Kasli (Academic Researcher Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences) - Cities of Migration

    The project of Asya Pisarevskaya, Peter Scholten and Zeynep Kasli studies how migration-related diversity is manifested and governed on the local level. They examine the underlying mechanisms of this relationship. The researchers aim to write a book with the case studies of cities for each of the determined types of urban diversity.

  • Zouhair Hammana MSc (Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication) PhD Candidate - Secondary education teachers’ and students’ engagement with cultural diversity

    The PhD project of Zouhair Hammana focuses on the engagement of secondary education teachers with students who have a cultural diverse background and vice versa. The study examines how teachers and students engage with the cultural ‘Other’, how they perceive themselves in relation to the cultural ‘Other’ and what kind of practices of openness they apply towards the ‘Other’.

Resilient Cities

  • Dr. Naomi van Stapele - Theme Lead

    Dr. Naomi van Stapele is Assistant Professor ‘Urban Governance and Development Policy’ at ISS. Alongside ethnography, her main type of research method entails community-led research and action (CLRA). Currently, she is involved in a CLRA project together with gangs on urban resilience in several East-African cities that are marked by religious violent extremism.

  • Dr. Brian P. Godor - Theme Lead

    Dr. Brian P. Godor has more than 15 years of teacher development experience. His research focuses on teachers’ competencies for gifted children as well as resiliency in adolescents. He currently leads an Erasmus+ project with five major European football clubs to develop their social programs to include resiliency and life skills trainings within this activities.

  • Dr. Cathy Wilcock (International Institute of Social Studies) Postdoctoral researcher - Straight outta Khartoum: Citizenship, migration and Sudan’s global music scene

    Taking Sudan as a case study, this Postdoc project analyses the global reach of Khartoum’s music scene which includes numerous exiled artists in diaspora communities around the world. To what extent, in what ways, and with what effects are these globally mobile musicians contributing to the new forms of citizenship and political practices being produced during the revolution in Sudan?

  • Donna de Maat MSc (Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences) PhD candidate - Resilience to early family stress - 

    In this PhD project, Donna de Maat examines resilience factors in children exposed to early family stress, such as socio-economic disadvantages or negative life events. The researchers aim to unravel why some children develop problems, while others keep functioning well and show ‘resilience’, after exposure to stressful family life.

  • Emily Mannheimer MSc (Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication) PhD Candidate - Imagining the Divided City

    The PhD project of Emily Mannheimer examines how local tourism producers (primarily tour guides) are using tourism to redefine the image of Northern Ireland for a global audience. The project includes research topics such as tourism, identity, heritage, and post-conflict narratives.

  • Jaffer Latief Najar MBA MSW (International Institute of Social Studies) PhD candidate - Locating marginalized voices in human trafficking discourse: Learning from the experiences of urban subalterns in India

    The PhD project of Jaffer Latief Najar focuses on the experiences of migrant sex and construction workers (urban subalterns) with India’s current anti-trafficking system. The project includes research topics such as agency and citizenship; and examines their role/existence in such experiences.

  • Mausumi Chetia (International Institute of Social Studies) PhD Candidate - Human security in everyday lives of disaster-displaced people in India 

    Through her research, Mausumi explores the everyday lives of families that face protracted internal displacement due to the disaster of riverbank erosion, in Assam, India. Among others, the research closely engages with topics such as ideas of home, urban governance, human security, discursive politics and so forth. Long-term ethnographic fieldwork forms a core of the research design and methodology.

  • Saba Al Kuntar MA (International Institute of Social Studies) PhD candidate - Refugee Entrepreneurship and Networking in Precarity

    The PhD project of Saba Al Kuntar focuses on refugee entrepreneurship through the case study of Syrian entrepreneurs in Lebanon. The research explores the experience of refugee entrepreneurs in setting up businesses amid uncertain conditions. The project includes topics such as refugee urban economy, social networks, self-reliance approach.

  • Warsha Jagroep MSc (Erasmus School of Health Policy and Management) PhD candidate - Age-friendly communities for older migrants in the Netherlands

    The PhD project of Warsha Jagroep focuses on older individuals with a migration background and the influence of neighbourhood attributes on their physical and social well-being. The results can provide the ingredients for designing and testing a multicomponent intervention, based on behavioural insights, that aims to increase older migrants’ well-being. 

Smart Cities

  • Dr. Jan Fransen - Theme Lead 

    Jan Fransen (PhD and MA in development studies) is a senior expert in urban economic development and resilience of the Institute of Housing and urban Development Studies (IHS/ EUR). He has over 25 years of experience in small firm development, smart cities, community resilience, poverty alleviation and (frugal) innovation in emerging economies.

  • Dr. Jiska Engelbert - Theme Lead

    Dr. Jiska Engelbert is Assistant Professor at the Erasmus School of History, Culture & Communication. In addition to coordinating both Digital Cities & Communities and the new LDE Minor “Smart and Shared Cities”, Jiska is Academic Director of “Tackling Inequalities”, the first interdisciplinary Honours Programme for all Master students at the Erasmus University.

  • Anne van Eldik MSc MA (Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication) PhD candidate - Urban Media Engagement

    The PhD project of Anne van Eldik focuses on the social media use of young people in super-diverse cities and investigates how this is related to the construction and negotiation of their urban identity. The project includes research topics such as urban identity, social media engagement, social media influencers, and the super-diverse city.

  • Arnout Boot MSc (Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences) PhD candidate - Cognitive and Linguistic Aspects of Social-media Usage

    The PhD project of Arnout Boot focuses on the cognitive and linguistic impact of social media. Research topics include (but not limited to) social-media usage, online language production, text mining, text analysis, information processing, fake news, opinion formation, memory, attention, and perception.

  • Lise Zurné MA (Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication) PhD Candidate- Performing sensitive pasts: Exploring historical reenactments in Europe and Indonesia

    Lise Zurné’s PhD project focusses on the popular phenomena of historical re-enactments. It aims to explore how re-enactors engage and negotiate sensitive histories. In her research Lise particularly focusses on 20st century violence in Europe and Indonesia. The aim of the study is to understand the relationship between re-enactments and urban history.

Sustainable Cities

  • Dr. Flor Avelino - Theme Lead

    Flor Avelino works at DRIFT as senior researcher in the politics of sustainability transitions and social innovation. She specialises in power and empowerment theories, and is involved in research projects on transformative social innovation (TRANSIT), sustainable & just cities (UrbanA) and social innovation in energy transitions (SONNET & PROSEU).

  • Dr. Amanda Brandellero (Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication) Assistant Professor- Crafting future urban economies

    Dr. Amanda Brandellero researches urban creativity and heritage. Her project 'Crafting future urban economies' was awarded an NWO VIDI grant. The project focuses on how making and crafts can support the transition to more circular urban economies. Amanda also participates in the LDE Port City & Region Futures programme.

  • Dr. Arno van der Hoeven (Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication) Assistant professor - Live music and urban development

    Arno van der Hoeven’s Postdoc project focuses on the economic, spatial and sociocultural impact of live music on cities. Music venues and festivals are vital for urban life. As part of the POPLIVE project, Van der Hoeven studies how local live music ecologies can be supported.

  • Dr. Jannes Willems (Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences) – Governance of urban climate adaptation

    As a postdoc, Jannes Willems researches local governments that aim to create more climate-proof cities. He is project leader of a NWO SURF onderzoek on Amsterdam Rainproof and Water Sensitive Rotterdam and participates in the European BEGIN-project. These projects research novel governance arrangements between water managers and local stakeholders.

  • Dr. Mariangela Lavanga (Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication) Assistant Professor - Locational choices, labour market and entrepreneurship in the fashion industry

    Lavanga's research focuses on locational choices, labour market and entrepreneurship of a diverse range of creative professionals (e.g. designers, craftsmen); intermediaries and temporary clusters (e.g. trade events); local and global networks; sustainability and circular economy in the fashion industry.

  • Dr. Robbert-Jan Adriaansen (Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication) Assistant professor - Historical Reenactments as Simulation of the Past: A New Paradigm for Research

    Rather than considering historical reenactments forms of historical representation, this studies them as forms of historical simulation. Applying play theory to the study of urban historical reenactments will show dynamics of identification and meaning making otherwise uncovered by traditional approaches to historical representation.

  • Portrait of Shirley Nieuwland

    Shirley Nieuwland MSc (Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication) PhD candidate - Urban Tourism: Towards Sustainable Development Models 

    The PhD project of Shirley Nieuwland focuses on exploring sustainable urban tourism models in post-industrial cities that have seen a recent growth in tourism, like Rotterdam and Valencia. The project includes topics such as urban development, (urban) tourism, the sharing economy, the creative city and gentrification.

  • Dr. Sven-Ove Horst (Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication) Assistant Professor - Organizing and managing the transformational dynamics in media and creative industries

    Dr. Sven-Ove Horst is interested in understanding the way in which digital media, strategic management and entrepreneurship intersect in today’s conditions of rapid organizational and societal change. This knowledge can help individual entrepreneurs become more reflective of their own branding; it can help media organizations to create sensible strategies; and it can help to ensure more creative and sustainable societal developments.

  • Vatan Huzeir MSc (Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences) PhD Candidate - Climate change activism