Researchers VCC

Vital Cities and Citizens

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.

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 ) Postdoctoral Researcher - 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.

Warda Belabas

Dr. Warda Belabas  (Erasmus School of Social and Behavourial Sciences) Assistant professor - Diversity, inclusion, identity and policy

Dr. Warda Belabas is an Assistant Professor within DPAS. Her research touches on issues of diversity, inclusion, identity and policy. From 2014-2020, she also served as a senior network officer for the academic network IMISCOE. Her work touches on the practice of local governance, and therefore she collaborates with the cities of Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Antwerp in particular in her city branding research. 

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’.

Dr. Jan Fransen - Theme Lead

Jan Fransen (PhD and MA in Development Studies) is an expert on urban economic development and resilience at the Institute of Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS). He is a visiting researcher on urban resilience at the Institute of Social Studies (ISS). Jan has over 25 years of experience in small business development, smart cities, resilient communities, poverty reduction and innovation in emerging economies.

Annabel Vreeker - Theme Lead

Annabel Vreeker is Assistant Professor of Orthopedagogy. Her research focuses on understanding and improving resilience and mental well-being of vulnerable young people. Annabel is currently working on several projects using eHealth applications to optimize the well-being and mental health of young people.

Dr. ir. Beitske Boonstra (Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences) - Community-led initiatives, the commons and city-making practices

Dr.ir. Beitske Boonstra is Academic Researcher at the Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences. Her research focusses on community-led initiatives and the commons, city-making practices, boundary spanning skills and urban governance capacities, through a theoretical lens of self-organization, complexity and resilience. She is coordinator of the Kenniswerkplaats Leefbare Wijken Rotterdam. 

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. 

Dr. Petra de Jong (Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences)  - Migration and diversity: interdisciplinary practices with mixed-method research

Dr. Petra de Jong works as postdoctoral researcher ‘Resilient and Inclusive Cities and Communities’ within the Erasmus Initiative Vital Cities & Citizens. In her work she strives to combine methods and insights from different disciplines to study socially relevant questions, especially related to migration and diversity.

Dr. Jan Fransen - Theme Lead 

Jan Fransen (PhD and MA in Development Studies) is an expert on urban economic development and resilience at the Institute of Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS). He is a visiting researcher on urban resilience at the Institute of Social Studies (ISS). Jan has over 25 years of experience in small business development, smart cities, resilient communities, poverty reduction and 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.

Mariana Fried MSc MA (Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication) PhD candidate -Beyond the Silicon Valley story

The PhD project of Mariana Fried examines how the cities of Rotterdam and Córdoba are represented as smart and innovative and how these discourses are reinterpreted and re-produced by local urban innovation workers in both cities. The project takes an ethnographic and multi-sited approach, covering topics such as the provincialization of the smart city, agency and discursive practices, and labor in the smart city.

Julia Wittmayer - Theme Lead

Julia Wittmayer works as assistant professor at Erasmus University Rotterdam and has worked as (action) researcher in sustainability transitions at DRIFT since 2008. With a background in social and cultural anthropology, she focuses on changing social relations between and meaning making of societal actors in processes of social change. She works on social innovation and transformative change through research projects such as 'Pathways towards low-carbon cities' (TOMORROW) and builds expertise and a university-wide network on transformative research with Erasmus Universities’ Design Impact Transition (DIT) Platform.

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. 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.

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

Dr. Sofia Pagliarin (Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences) - Urban technologies and smart cities

Sofia Pagliarin’s research investigates data governance arrangements of smart urban technologies (SMUBTs). Her research approach is complexity-informed, qualitative and comparative. She also teaches a specialisation course in (large-scale) infrastructure analysis and evaluation at the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS).

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