Four Utrecht research projects receive EU funding

How do power relations cause gender inequality and exclusion, and how can we change it? What impact does structural racism have on societies? And what are the living and working conditions of migrants whose right to stay in Europe is unclear?

Those kinds of questions are what four Utrecht scientists can start researching, courtesy of EU funding. The projects of  Ilse van Liempt , Marcel Lubbers , Valentina di Stasio and  Linda Senden will receive funding for three to four years from the Horizon Europe programme. The grants are intended for research that contributes to finding solutions to societal issues that exist throughout Europe.

About the research projects

I-CLAIM: Improving the living and labour conditions of irregularised migrant households in Europe

This project sheds light on vulnerabilities faced by irregular migrants in the labour market.

Dr. Ilse van Liempt

Faculty of Geosciences

I-Claim investigates the living and working conditions of irregular migrants in Europe. Irregular migrants are migrants with uncertain statuses for many different reasons, such as those whose visas have expired, those without the right to work, or those who crossed international borders without official permission from the authorities. I-Claim aims to reveal the spectrum of irregularity in Europe and shine a light on the everyday experiences of irregular migrants.

Project Leader Ilse van Liempt says: "This project will shine a light on vulnerabilities faced by irregular migrants on the labour market, but will also document possible practices of mobilisation and policy change. The project will define concrete policy recommendations on how to improve working conditions for illegal migrants in Europe."

I-Claim examines different sectors of the economy in Utrecht, Berlin, Naples, Helsinki and Warsaw which rely heavily on the work of irregular migrants, such as the care and domestic-work sectors, the agriculture sector, logistics and delivery, and examines how the use of online platforms facilitates the emergence of new labour opportunities, but at the same time creates new forms of labour that shape irregular migrants’ everyday experiences.

We want to take actions that make structural racism more transparent and thus contribute to equality.

Marcel Lubbers

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

With his project RAISE, Marcel Lubbers wants to find out, among other things, to what extent people recognise the existence of structural racism. In structural racism, there is exclusion of certain groups of people within society that continues to exist because of the way society and institutions function. Lubbers: "As a result, there is a structural disadvantage for a group of people just on the basis of ethnic background, for example." "Hopefully we can then take actions that make structural racism more understandable, and thus ultimately contribute to equality."

Lubbers advocates an interdisciplinary approach. "We will do this with a variety of researchers. Think social psychologists, theologians, geographers, political scientists, economists, bigdata scientists and sociologists." Within the project, scientists will work with NGOs addressing racism and xenophobia in precarious contexts (such as NGOs from Hungary, Poland and Turkey). According to the grantmaker, Lubbers’ project is "at the forefront of generating new insights on structural racism in Europe."

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The project examines forms of structural discrimination in employment, housing and childcare.

Dr. Valentina Di Stasio

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Within the same call, called Strengthening ethnic, racial and religious equality, the project EQUALSTRENGTH has also been honoured. Utrecht University Associate Professor Valentina Di Stasio participates in this project, of which University College Dublin is the lead partner. With the project, the scholars will investigate cumulative and structural forms of discrimination. The focus will be on barriers in access to employment, housing and childcare. The researchers will focus on prejudice and hate crimes against ethnic, racial and religious minorities.

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How do power relations cause gender inequality and exclusion, and how can we change it?

Prof. mr. Linda Senden

Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance

How do mutual power relations and specific barriers shape gender (in)equality and exclusion? Can these be effectively changed within, for example, the political, social, economic and cultural spheres? RE-WIRING maps structural root causes of "gendered" (gender-blind or gender-neutral) power hierarchies in European countries and elsewhere. Through transformative research, the project led by Linda Senden aims to then "rewire" institutions. This makes it possible to prevent and change existing gender inequalities.

Effective transformation and empowerment of women only succeeds when action is taken simultaneously at institutional, experiential and symbolic levels. The foundations of this innovative approach have been laid within Utrecht University’s interdisciplinary research network Gender, Diversity & Global Justice. Another starting point of the project is collaboration: RE-WIRING includes extensive research in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Poland, the United Kingdom and South Africa. Utrecht University provides project coordination, with the ultimate goal of delivering policy recommendations for focused programmes. These contribute to the UN goal of sustainable development for the empowerment of women and girls.

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