Research Highlights

I. PhD Project ‘Communication in Multilingual Workplaces in the Euroregion’. Supervisor: Leonie Cornips, Hans Schmeets and Jan ten Thije. PhD candidate: Daan Hovens

This PhD project explores the impact of European labour market integration and immigration from non-EU countries on workplace communication. Specifically, it looks at how people deal with multilingualism and language barriers which occur in industrial workplaces in the Dutch-German borderland. The project is financed by the Institute for Transnational and Euregional cross-border cooperation and Mobility (ITEM).

Along the Dutch-German border, there are currently several ‘Euroregions’. These are EU-supported cross-border regions one of the aims of which is to create a cross-border labour market. As various companies in the industrial sector have a hard time finding a sufficient labour force, the cross-border labour market provides an opportunity to recruit people from across the Dutch-German border.

Additionally, many employees in the industrial sector have a recent migration background. This results in linguistically diverse workplaces in which, apart from Dutch, German and local dialects, one finds languages such as Arabic, English, Polish, Russian and Turkish.

The PhD project makes use of ethnographic methods, meaning that the PhD candidate immerses himself in a multilingual workplace for several months and works together with other employees. In total, the candidate will spend one period of ethnographic fieldwork in a workplace on the Dutch side of the border, and one in a workplace on the German side of the border.
During his fieldwork, the candidate makes audio and video recordings of workplace interaction. Based on these concrete examples of daily language practices, the candidate formulates both existing challenges and possible solutions when it comes to workplace communication in the Euroregion.

Workers at the smelting furnace

II. Midterm report NACCA approved

In July 2017 the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network ‘New Approaches in the Conservation of Contemporary Art (NACCA)’, coordinated by Renée van de Vall, submitted its midterm scientific and financial report to the EU. NACCA consists of 15 PhD projects, each focusing on a specific aspect of the conservation of complex works of art, such as installations, performances and media artworks. In their evaluation, the EU representatives concluded that the scientific progress of the project was satisfying and that the major objectives for the period were achieved.

The network NACCA also organised a Summer School in Glasgow (June 26th-27th 2017). Here, the NACCA Early Stage Researchers and supervisors met with the EU representatives to present their research and discuss the project management.
The NACCA Summer school concluded with an international conference, titled Material Futures: Matter, Memory and Loss in Contemporary Art Production and Preservation, at the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow.

Group photo with some of the conference participants. Photo: Aga Wielocha.

III. NWO project: ‘Challenging masculinities: The institution of marriage for young Senegalese migrant men under conditions of involuntary return to Senegal’. granted in ‘PhD in the Humanities’.
Supervisors: Valentina Mazzucato and Ulrike Brunotte. PhD project by Karlien Strijbosch

This project investigates the performance and narration of masculinities of involuntary returned Senegalese men. In Senegal, masculine forms of honour depend on the ability to pay bride-wealth, marry and provide for one’s extended family. Yet marriage, and thus becoming an ‘adult man’, is increasingly unachievable due to the lack of economic opportunities. Migration can increase the social standing of men and be a solution to this ‘crisis of masculinity’. Yet European migration governance focuses on returning unwanted migrants to their country of origin, with Senegalese men representing a large number of those returned. Little is known about the socio-cultural consequences of such returns. How do young Senegalese men navigate, perform and narrate their masculinities in a context of involuntary return migration?

This research combines approaches that have heretofore been employed separately; using an intersectional approach, ethnography, the study of popular culture and biographical work to investigate the relationship between masculinities and migration. Masculinity is not only a performative practice but also narrated. In life-narratives and popular culture different forms of masculinities are negotiated. This research adds an empirical case to the conceptual debate within gender studies on agency, investigating this in a setting where masculinities have been little analysed. This project questions the often calculative understanding of migration by focusing on the (im)possibilities of socio-cultural transformations. By doing so, it contributes to the study of changing gender relations and migration. This understanding can lead to a better reintegration of migrants and highlight possible unintended consequences of European migration policies.

Karlien Strijbosch