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CADS alumna Shirley van der Maarel wins Leiden University Thesis Prize 2020

Shirley van der Maarel won the Thesis Award 2020 with her thesis 'Terra Incognita'. Van der Maarel graduated summa cum laude for the master's specialisation Visual Ethnography. She researched a group of refugees housed in an Italian village and wrote an interactive thesis and made a film. This resulted in a Ph.D. at the University of Manchester and the Leiden University Thesis Prize 2020.

Innovative perspectives

According to the jury, all six theses were easy to read, cogent and appealing. But the theses of the winners (this year there was not one, but two winners. Vincent Peeters is the other winner) stand out because of their innovative perspectives and the fact that they were so well-written. Van der Maarel made use of a mix of both audiovisual and ethnographic research methods. In addition to an academic text, she also wrote a guide for Italian residents to bridge the gap between Italian residents and the new refugee inhabitants and produced a documentary.

Terra Incognita

The title of Van der Maarels'thesis Terra Incognita refers to unknown land. In the past, explorers called pieces of land they could not map 'terra incognita'. Nowadays no map would admit to there being any terra incognita.  But throughout Europe, refugees are placed in remote villages to prevent issues around depopulation and a shortage of accommodation in cities. Van der Maarel did research in Valle di Comino in Italy, where she worked with refugees and researched how they create a sense of home in an area abandoned by other young people.

Leiden University Thesis Prize 2020

The Thesis Prizes are endowed by the Minerva Class of 1957/1961/1965 Alumni Fund. The first prize consists of the sum of €3,000, the second prize €2,000 and the third prize €1,000.

The specialisation Visual Ethnography is part of the master Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology.

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