After a PhD concerning non-governmental development organisations, I have become an expert in development in areas affected by disaster, conflict or fragility, with a special focus on aid-society relations: the impact of humanitarian aid on society and the ways in which people and institutions shape the organisation of aid relations. In this work, I have mostly used ethnographic methodologies (aidnography). My theoretical framework on humanitarian arenas analyses aid from a sociological, empirical perspective. It brings out how humanitarian action is shaped by different actors in everyday practice and focuses on discourse, organization and power.
A recurring theme in my research concerns questions of institutional multiplicity in governance when different normative frameworks and authorities compete, for example in service delivery in the DRC and Nepal and in humanitarian aid provision in refugee camps. In multiple projects, I have analysed how this creates barriers as well as opportunities for peace and development. In the last three years I have led a theory-driven evaluation of international lobby and advocacy.
I have played a major role in building a research and educational programme around disasters, conflict and humanitarian aid, attracting external funding and students to the extent that our group developed in ten years to 30 fte. I have supervised 30 PhD candidates, 11 of these are ongoing and 19 have been completed. In my current position, I am building a research programme at ISS around situations where conflicts meet disaster. In addition to my academic research I have always maintained a portfolio for applied assignments and advisory work, which has enhanced an intimate knowledge base of international organisational processes. My academic research is interactive, seeking dialogue with policy and practice on relevance, access and uptake of research, and I seek to incorporate my applied work in academic publications.
Since 2000 I have acquired 16 grants and large research contracts with a total value of 8 million Euro. I am a laureate of a VICI grant of NWO and previously of a VIDI grant. About half of my research has been academically financed, the other half is financed by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the British DFID and Dutch development organisations.