Overarching interests in my teaching and research relate to a) past, present and future imaginaries of development and the 'good life,' b) understandings of socio-ecological inequalities and justice that may underpin these imaginaries, and c) the (interconnected) actors involved in the (un)making and (un)doing of these imaginaries. In studying these kinds of questions, I draw on an intersectional lens in an effort to better understand lived lives of differently located people and their conceptions of development and a/the ‘good life.’ In so doing, I am also interested in how different actors contest, subvert and/or (inadvertently) entrench gendered, classed and racialised norms and violence that shape their own and others’ possible lives.
I joined the UvA in May 2014, having received my doctorate from the Institute of Education, University College London in October 2013. Prior to this, I worked for the United Nations and in the NGO sector for almost 18 years. I worked for UNESCO in Indonesia, the Philippines and Mozambique, the International Bureau of Education (UNESCO/IBE) in Geneva and the International Institute for Educational Planning (UNESCO-IIEP) in Paris. In addition, I worked for various non-governmental organisations both within and outside the Netherlands with a focus on young people, human rights and health promotion.
My doctoral research engaged with approaches to sexuality education in Mozambique, interrogating dominant concepts underpinning HIV-related education to more clearly articulate the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of this form of education. My research on sexuality education in Mozambique initially drew my attention to how notions of belonging, the ‘good citizen’ and socio-political participation and representation might be enacted and/or contested in educational spaces, broadly conceived. Subsequent work has only deepened my interest therein, whereby I am particularly drawn to questions regarding the spaces created in narratives of development for particular future imaginaries and forms of socio-ecological justice, and how these interact with past and present imaginaries. Who is in/excluded from these imaginaries, including their creation?
I draw on decolonial feminist scholarship, and work in the fields of STS and anthropology in shaping methodological and ethical considerations, including those regarding my role in the ’production’ of knowledge. I seek to collaborate closely with societal partners and activists to ensure my work and writing at/retains a level of groundedness. Fiction keeps me sane as well as firing my imagination, and there is a special place on my bedside table for feminist science fiction and speculative fiction.
At present, I am working on the following research projects:
a. Alternatives to extractivism: An examination of ways of knowing, being and doing in relation to the (sub)soil: The goal of this interdisciplinary project, on which I am collaborating with colleagues from the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (Mozambique), Louvain (Belgium) and the VU Amsterdam is to contribute to debates on relations of different actors to land and (their) soil in resource-rich areas. We are particularly interested in how political decisions about the (sub)soil may provide opportunities for alternative 'future imaginations' and extractive development models, whereby I empirically focus on young women and men’s future imaginations, and theoretically on the potential of decolonial feminism. Our empirical focus began in Mozambique, but we intend to expand to other resource-rich sites, including the Netherlands.
b. Silencing of feminist and queer activists: in this project, colleagues and I investigate ways in which young activists deal with silencing within social movements and by counter movements. The project challenges the widespread assumption of silence as a marker of disempowerment and subjugation. We thus interrogate binary conceptions of silencing vis-á-vis ‘voice' or 'agency,' and investigate productive dimensions of silence. Examples include not only the potential political leverage of silence (e.g. silent protest), but particularly the spaces afforded in/by silence for care, being/becoming, and inclusion. A report on our initial exploratory research can be found here. At present we are conducting further literature review on this expanding field of scholarship.
c. Partnership & Power: doing partnerships authentically: in collaboration with Oxfam Novib, I am conducting a participatory study to study Oxfam Novib’s learning journey to decolonise its work, and specific programmes in particular. This project builds on earlier work with Oxfam Novib (for more detail see here). The present stage is geared to developing an audio-comic for educational purposes, to be used within the organisation itself, but more importantly, to contribute to public debate on the ‘doing’ of decolonisation in the field of international development.
I am interested in working with BA and MA students and PhD candidates on the broad fields sketched above.