Robin Vandevoordt is working on a research project on ‘Civil humanitarianism and the politics of refugee solidarity’. He will continue doing on-going ethnographic fieldwork with several civil initiatives in Belgium, focusing on their subversive relations with governmental policies, professional NGOs and everyday social life. Drawing on his own Belgian case studies and similar initiatives across Europe, he will situate their rise in the broader context of changes in the field of humanitarian aid, European migration regimes, and citizens’ desire to re-establish a moral community through direct social action. His previous research at the University of Antwerp examined the conditions of solidarity by looking at Belgian and European responses to the Syrian refugee crisis. More concretely, he studied how journalists, students, social workers and policymakers made sense of their encounters with Syrian men and women. A crucial part of this project researched these encounters through Syrians’ lived experiences as they rebuild their social lives in Belgium. In the future, he hopes to slightly shift his field of study to the anthropology of food, by exploring how food serves as a site of both solidarity and contention, in the encounters between (forced) migrants and citizens.
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