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 studied cultural anthropology at Utrecht University (UU) in the Netherlands and wrote her bachelor’s thesis on local reconciliation efforts in San Jose Chacayá, Guatemala. Her master’s research in Conflict Studies and Human Rights, also at Utrecht University, focused on child soldiers in Sri Lanka. She returned to the Department of Cultural Anthropology as a PhD candidate in 2007. Her PhD dissertation, titled “Twilight Policing. Private Security in Durban, South Africa”, explores the policing practices of a particular type of private security officer, namely armed response officers, in Durban, South Africa, with the aim of gaining further insight into the complex relationships between policing, (in)security, authority, and violence.

Between October 2011 and May 2013, she was a Marie Curie Sustainable Peacebuilding (SPBuild) Fellow at the Conflict Resolution Unit in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Sabancı University in Istanbul, Turkey. Since February 2014, she is a post-doctoral researcher within the research project funded by the European Research Council (ERC) titled, “Private-Public Research Assemblages” at the University of Amsterdam. In this project, she will conduct a comparative analysis of private-public security assemblages in Kingston, Jerusalem, and Nairobi. She also works as a lecturer on the International Studies Programme at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

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.

During my year at the UvA I will take this approach further in two projects: First, as part of a collaborative research project with Markus-Michael Müller and Andrea Steinke (Latin American Institute, Freie Universität Berlin), which received funding from the German Foundation for Peace Research, I study the transnational entanglements of “pacification” encounters in low-income communities in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Second, I am developing a project to understand which new forms of governability are emerging in the ever more polarizing and securitized urban peripheries of Medellin, Rio de Janeiro and Berlin. The retreat of residents to gated enclaves, the formation of right-wing neighborhood defense groups, the employment of surveillance technologies and private security firms, and new strategies to displace low-income populations to the urban peripheries can be studied as global assemblages of securitizing housing.

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

As a former MA student of Criminology and Conflict Studies, non-state security provision and hybrid governance have always intrigued me. For my dissertation, I undertook fieldwork in Libya where I studied the security encounters between militias, the police, and civic groups in Tripoli in 2012 and 2013. Together with my work as Junior Research and Lecturer at Utrecht University, this experience confirmed that this was the academic field I wanted to continue to undertake research in.

For my PhD research at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, I primarily focus on how citizenship is being reconfigured through the pluralisation of security policy in Miami, US. I undertake ethnographic research in both marginalised and gated communities in Miami where civilians have access to, as well as formed, different types of private security and governance structures. In doing so, I explore the encounters between ‘state’ (i.e., the police) and ‘non-state’ (i.e., community-based organisations) security actors, and citizens of 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.