Research Team

The research will be conducted by the main PI, two postdoctoral researchers and four PhD candidates over the course of five years.

Rivke Jaffe

Dr. Rivke Jaffe is Professor of Cities, Politics and Culture at the Department of Human Geography, Planning and International Development Studies and the Centre for Urban Studies within the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research. Prior to joining the UvA, she held teaching and research positions at Leiden University, the University of the West Indies, and the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV).

Her anthropological research focuses primarily on intersections of the urban and the political, and specifically on the spatialization of power, difference and inequality within cities. She is interested in how urban problems such as poverty, crime and environmental degradation are linked to social differentiation along lines of ethnicity, class and gender. How are these inequalities constructed, reproduced and transformed through urban policy, market forces and social movements? How does the (colonial) past shape the cities of today? What is the role of popular culture – music, video clips, murals, graffiti – in the ways we experience and communicate urban exclusion and solidarity? Rivke’s engagement with these concerns is motivated by the conviction that anthropology and urban studies can provide important insights into what divides and what unites us, into the social problems we face and the solutions that are possible.

Erella Grassiani

Erella Grassiani is an anthropologist and she works as a post-doc researcher at the Centre for Urban Studies and the Department of Human Geography, Planning and International Development Studies and a lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, both at the University of Amsterdam. Her research is part of a wider project on privatization and globalization of security with a specific focus on Israel/Jerusalem and security mobilities (SECURCIT). Her research will trace the flows of the (Israeli) security worldwide and look at the way cultural ideas, technologies and consultants move around globally.

In the past she has done extensive research on the Israeli military and has published a book on the topic in 2013 with Berghahn books: ‘Soldiering under Occupation processes of Numbing among Israeli soldiers in the Al-Aqsa Intifada’. Her teaching involves issues around the anthropology of conflict and violence, identity, nationalism and power relations. Furthermore, Erella Grassiani is the co-founder of gate48, a platform for critical Israelis in the Netherlands.

Tessa Diphoorn

Dr. Tessa Géraldine Diphoorn is an anthropologist and was a post-doctoral researcher within the research project “Private-Public Research Assemblages” between 2014-2016. In this project, she conducted a comparative analysis of private-public security assemblages in Kingston, Jerusalem, and Nairobi. Previously she conducted extensive ethnographic research about private security in South Africa and her book, “Twilight Policing. Private Security and Violence in Urban South Africa”, has been published with the University of California Press (2016).

In 2016 she left the project to take on a new position as Assistant Professor at the Department of Cultural Anthropology at Utrecht University. Since May 2017 she is working on a new has also started on a new NWO-funded (Veni) research project: ‘Policing the Police in Kenya: Analysing state authority from within’. Recently, Tessa Diphoorn was appointed as one of the new members of the Utrecht Young Academy (UYA). This is a platform for the exchange of critical perspectives on academia, policy, and society in Utrecht and beyond. For more information, see here.

Frank Müller

I am a political scientist and a postdoctoral researcher at the Human Geography, Planning and International Development Department and the Centre for Urban Studies at the University of Amsterdam. My research focuses on housing and securitization in Urban Latin America and beyond. I have studied land conflicts, “pacification”, and protests against involuntary resettlements in Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro. Informed by studies on the performativity of power, my research is examining urban informality as a volatile role and ascription. Informality I take as a methodological place to understand how the urban is produced in everyday security encounters and which socio-political and –spatial effects these generate.

In my current research project “Social Housing as an Arena for Contested Urban Security Governance: The cases Rio de Janeiro and Medellín”, I examine how social housing programs in Brazil and Colombia intersect with security policies. State-subsidized housing programs have improved the livelihood of low-income populations in Latin American cities for decades. However, in recent years social housing developments have become a strategy to (re-)centre territorial sovereignty to the state, relocating low-income populations from informal settlements controlled by criminal groups, including drug traffickers and militias. Yet these groups sustain significant influence in new social housing developments. I am interested in how actors approach social housing as an arena for negotiating security governance. By one ethnographic case study in a social housing development in in Rio de Janeiro and Medellín, I will investigate first, how state actors redefine social housing in terms of security and sovereignty, focusing on infrastructural materiality and legal arrangements related to tenure. Secondly, how residents develop measures of self-protection vis-à-vis militias, drug traffickers and the police. Third, I explore how gangs and militias seek control over infrastructure and (protective) services that residents rely on.

Patrick Weir

I am a political-cultural geographer and post-doctoral researcher in the Department for Human Geography, Planning and International Development the University of Amsterdam.  I hold a Bachelors degree in philosophy and politics from the University of Glasgow and a Masters in International security studies at the University of St Andrews. My PhD research at the University of Exeter focussed on on the ways in which theories of assemblage, actor-networks and object oriented ontologies could provide new directions for understanding geopolitics and cultural studies, with a specific focus on BBC radio as a techno-cultural assemblage during the Cold War.  

My research at UvA under the SECURCIT project follows these theoretical themes further, seeking to develop assemblage theories for security contexts.  Specifically, with a view to accounting for the heterogenous constellations of bodies, technologies, legal regimes and affects which come into being at different times and places in contemporary securescapes. Crucially, this requires attention to how differential forms of citizenship are constructed within and between security assemblages. In conjunction with this and building on my previous research into radio, I am also interested in how sound and sonics can operates in relation to contemporary security practices.

Francesca Pilo’

I am a political scientist and post-doctoral researcher in the Department for Human Geography, Planning and International Development the University of Amsterdam. I hold a PhD in Urban Planning (2015) from the University Paris-Est, France, and the Fluminense Federal University, Brazil (joint-supervision). My PhD research, and my post-doctoral research at the Université Paris Diderot (2015-2016), revolved around electricity politics in the Global South, particularly in informal settlements (Rio de Janeiro) and peripheral areas (Lomé). My thesis analyzed the reconfiguration of forms of inequality and integration of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas through electricity regularization policies, and their interaction with State-security processes.

My research under the SECURCIT project follows these themes seeking to develop a theoretical understanding of the interactions between city and citizenship, and their material relationality through socio-technical systems. Specifically, I explore how a socio-technical perspective can provide an understanding of the political and material process that reshape forms of belonging and citizenship in urban contexts. Following this main idea, I am also developing a comparative research project to understand which forms of governability electricity infrastructure develop in metropolises of emerging countries through different electricity delivery systems.

Thijs Jeursen

My research looks into configurations and experiences of citizenship in relation to security provision in Miami. In analyzing contemporary security practices, many have addressed the relationship between private and public actors. The city of Miami is no exception: While departing from the idea that such relationships and practices blur the boundaries between what has been traditionally called ‘public’ or ‘private’, I aim to address the individual experiences hereof and attempts to look beyond such boundaries to begin with. It asks: how do civilians themselves cater for their own security?

This approach looks at the practices of police officers, security guards, and civilians through the same lens, asking the question of what they do to improve safety. In particular, I understand guns, cameras, and secrets as major elements in the ways security is envisioned and practiced. Through these elements we can better understand how citizenship manifests in daily urban life. For example, how does the right to have a gun mediate the understanding of who is responsible for security, and when? How does the increasing use of mobile cameras influence perceptions of safety? And finally, how do secrets affect relationships of trust and collectivity in Miami?

Francesco Colona

I am Francesco Colona and in my PhD project I am working on public and private security assemblages and their reconfiguration of citizenship in the city of Nairobi. After a Bachelor degree in Sociology and Social Research at the University of Rome “La Sapienza”, I completed a Research Master in Social Sciences at the University of Amsterdam, specializing in Conflict Studies. In my master research project, I studied the organizational strategies of rebel groups and their patterns of violence against civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I conducted experts’ interviews during two months of fieldwork in the east of the DRC.

Working in an international NGO as a logistician and security officer in Juba (two months) and Nairobi (four months) I was already able to engage in security issues and be in contact with private security companies. My current project on security assemblages gives me the opportunity to combine my academic expertise, both at a theoretical and methodological level, and my previous work experience in the cooperation sector.

Carolina Frossard

I joined the University of Amsterdam’s Public-Private Security Assemblages research team as a PhD candidate, fresh out of my Master’s. In December 2013, I graduated from the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam, where I completed the MA programme in Development Studies, with a Major in Social Policy for Development. My Research Paper resulted from an ethnographic exploration of the mega-event-induced urban operation that is reshaping the harbour region of Rio de Janeiro – my hometown.

My ongoing doctoral research project has the objective to unpack how different, and differentiated, enactments and understandings of citizenship are produced, and reproduced, in practices and discourses of state, and non-state, security provision, in Recife, Northeastern Brazil. Aligned with the research project’s goal of understanding how citizenship is being reconfigured through hybrid modes of security governance, I shall focus on selected sites of residence, leisure, and mobility within the city, seeking to unpack the ways the public and private clash and overlap, shaping its residents’ lived experiences of place and citizenship.

Lior Volinz

Lior Volinz (ליאור ווליניץ) is a PhD candidate within the School for Social Science Research (AISSR) of the University of Amsterdam. His research, as part of the research group “Public-Private Security Assemblages”, focuses on the privatization process of security and military functions in Jerusalem and its relations to differentiated citizenship and precarious residency rights.

Lior holds a Joint MA degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology from Stockholm University and the University of Ljubljana (2013, cum laude). In his Master’s thesis, Lior explored how anti-war activists in Israel and Serbia, societies facing an intractable conflict, can negotiate and challenge state-sanctioned constructs of national identity and collective memory. He earned his BA in Media and History from Tel Aviv University (2010), and the IB diploma from the United World College of the Adriatic in Duino, Italy (2006).

His previous work experience includes writing as a foreign correspondent for several Slovene publications, as well as research within a media research project at Tel Aviv University. In addition to his academic training, he is continuously engaged with several organizations and campaigns to promote the political and social rights of Palestinians and Israelis.