Dr Robin Vandevoordt

Early Career Fellow in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies

Robin Vandevoordt is an Early Career Fellow at ODID’s Refugee Studies Centre. At the RSC, he is working on a research project on ‘Civil humanitarianism and the politics of refugee solidarity’. He will continue doing on-going ethnographic fieldwork with several civil initiatives in Belgium, focusing on their relations with governmental policies, professional NGOs and everyday social life. Drawing on his own Belgian case studies and similar initiatives across Europe, he will situate their development in the broader context of changes in the field of humanitarian aid, European migration regimes, and citizens’ desire to re-establish a moral community through direct social action.

His previous research at the University of Antwerp examined the conditions of solidarity by looking at Belgian and European responses to the Syrian refugee crisis. More concretely, he studied how journalists, students, social workers, and policymakers made sense of their encounters with Syrian men and women. A crucial part of this project researched these encounters through Syrians’ lived experiences as they rebuild their social lives in Belgium. In the future, he hopes to shift his field of study to the anthropology of food, by exploring how eating and drinking can create sites of solidarity and contention in the encounters between (forced) migrants and citizens.

Civil humanitarianism and the politics of refugee solidarity

Journal articles and special issues

Vandevoordt, Robin (2018) 'Judgement and ambivalence in migration work: On the (Dis) appearance of dilemmas in assisting voluntary return.', Sociology 52 (2) 282-97
Vandevoordt, Robin (2017) 'The Politics of Food and Hospitality: How Syrian Refugees in Belgium Create a Home in Hostile Environments', Journal of Refugee Studies 30 (4) 605-21
Vandevoordt, Robin (2017) 'Between humanitarian assistance and migration management: on civil actors’ role in voluntary return from Belgium', Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 43 (11) 1907-22
Vandevoordt, Robin (2017) 'Moral cosmopolitanism and the everyday life: how students encounter distant others', Media, Culture & Society
Vandevoordt, Robin (2015) 'Ruin, Allegory, Melancholy. On the Critical Aesthetics of WG Sebald's "The Emigrants and The Rings of Saturn"', Transformations 28
Vandevoordt, Robin (2014) 'Unspeakable resistance: Walter Benjamin on Attic tragedy', Thesis Eleven 123 (1) 62-79


Vandevoordt, Robin (2016) 'Humanitarian media events: On the symbolic conditions of moral integration'. Global perspectives on media events in contemporary society , IGI Global
Research interests:

Forced migration; lived experiences; humanitarianism; civil solidarity; social movements.