After working for more than 20 years in academia, I was looking forward to a 6-month sabbatical in 2014 to write a major grant proposal. The plan was to go first to South Africa for a keynote address at a conference in January and then start my sabbatical. The weekend before my departure to South Africa, I got a call from my aunt in Iran that changed everything. The next thing I knew, I was on a plane to Tehran instead of Johannesburg.

Despite well-intended efforts, many progressives do not succeed in making their own living and working environments more diverse. Sociologist Halleh Ghorashi explores why inequalities continue to grow and exclusionary spaces persist, reflecting on her own experience and insights as a scholar and an asylum seeker in the Netherlands. When it comes to promoting diversity, good intentions are not enough. Tackling exclusion and hierarchies demands a deeper questioning of normative thinking that assumes people with a migration background are different and disadvantaged.

The corona crisis acts as both an accelerator of the effects of our (consumption) behaviour and a magnifying glass on the sources of inequality and imbalance in our societies. In short, this crisis shows that what we thought was normal has been quite detrimental to our survival on several fronts. Think for example of the consequences of unrestrained growth on nature and human relations or those of unlimited consumption/production based on what one wants, not what one needs – desire versus need -, or the negative consequences of unlimited mobility.

I have always found it fascinating how decisions can unexpectedly lead us to new people, situations and places. No matter how minor some of these encounters might look, they can activate infinite possibilities and journeys. It is only a matter of expecting the unexpected and being open to it.

Fabian Holle, PhD-candidate within our project, has won the 2020 ARC-GS Master Thesis Prize for the research they did for the thesis 'Queer creations between a rock and a hard place. Art practicing LGBTQ+ forced migrants unsettling Dutch hegemony'. Below, you can read the jury report and watch the video in which Fabian describes in more detail their research project. 

We weten pas sinds kort dat bomen met elkaar kunnen communiceren. Wat als dat ondergrondse netwerk het heft in handen neemt, en besluit om zich voor eens en altijd te bevrijden van de parasiet mens? Olave Nduwanje geeft ons het verhaal DE WORTELS.