Visual anthropology; confluences of anthropology and art, visual and narrative storytelling, creative writing practices; history of visual anthropology; everyday histories of inclusion and exclusion; qualitative research methods; existential anthropology, refugee and migration studies with an emphasise on im/mobility and the making of home
Tunisia, Belgium, Italy (South Tyrol) and the German-speaking Alpine region
I am a social anthropologist and documentary filmmaker, working on the intersection between art and anthropology and the resulting manifold ways of obtaining knowledge. Having studied both Social- (University of Vienna) and Visual Anthropology (University of Manchester), I participated in the Master Class SIC - Sound Image Culture Brussels, engaging with artful ways of storytelling and challenging documentary conventions. Working as a filmmaker and conducting narrative participatory projects the following years, I have taught workshops on the use of video in anthropology and human rights advocacy in and outside of academia.
I returned to Anthropology as part of the ERC research group “KFI - Knowing from the Inside” at the University of Aberdeen. In my dissertation “Crafting Lives in Brussels: Making and Mobility on the Margins” I explore the lifeworlds of migrants who settled in the district of Molenbeek in Brussels more than two decades ago, combining and experimenting with different practices of inquiry (e.g. participant observation, life storytelling and the use of audio-visual tools), reflecting on the at times converging and at times diverging processes of making films and conducting anthropological research. The thesis sheds light on processes of mobility and immobility as well as marginalisation and exclusion in a city that has evolved from a little-known town to the capital of the European Union. My long-term engagement with this neighbourhood that has turned into a symbol of failed multiculturalism and is often stigmatised as a migrant “ghetto” has triggered my interest to also explore the sentiments of those who are drawn to anti-EU and anti-globalisation sentiments. Subsequently I started to conduct the artistic project “Container” (together with the Austrian filmmaker and writer Iris Blauensteiner). Capturing differentiated images of anti-immigrant sentiments in a small Austrian village, the project combined ethnographic research tools with artistic modes of expression and resulted in a performance reading on site. The participation in group expositions, a short documentary and a joint written publication followed. In 2019 I joined the independent research group “Alpine Histories of Global Change: Time, Self and the Other in the German-speaking Alpine region” at the Max-Planck-Institute for Social Anthropology as a postdoctoral researcher. In my project “On what grounds? Attachment and belonging to contested soils in the Alps” I aim to look at but also beyond reactionary ideas of “soil,” questioning what it means to be attached to and engage with the ground - both as a living compound and as a concrete experience of people's attachment to the soil they live on/with. Working partly with people whose attachment to soil is linked to nationalistic and anti-globalist sentiments, made me reflect on the challenges of conducting audio-visual research with people we work with but we don’t necessarily agree with. With the project “’What if they say things we don’t like?’ Visual reflections on uneasy relationships in the field,” my ambition is to develop new methods and forms of visual anthropology combined with filmic approaches that bring new perspectives to the topic and its ethical challenges. The questions animating my work include how can conducting research with the camera help establishing more nuanced readings of people we work with but we don’t necessarily agree with and where are its limitations? And how can this feed back into (audio-visual) anthropological knowledge and practice in filmmaking and research.
Alongside my academic work, I am a curator for film festivals (e.g. Faito Doc, Italy; Collected Voices, USA) and organise screenings (e.g. Kino Zazie in Halle, DE) and expositions (e.g. Pianofabriek Brussels). My documentary films, A Letter to Mohamed (2013, 35 Min., BE), Red Earth White Snow (2018, 71 Min., AT) and The World is Blue at its Edges (2021, 14.30 Min., AT) have been shown at international film festivals and have received a number of prizes.