Matelski, dr. M.

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faculteit der sociale wetenschappen ( afd. sociale en culturele antropologie )


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Promo Master Anthropology


Maaike Matelski has an interdisciplinary background in social sciences with a focus on development studies and human rights. She completed a Master in Social Psychology with a Minor in Development Studies at the University of Amsterdam in 2005. Her research project on the social position of Roma and Sinti in The Netherlands, which she conducted as part of an internship, was published by the Anne Frank House in 2004. In 2007 she completed a Master in Human Rights at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She has been following the situation in Burma/Myanmar since 2004, and wrote her Master thesis in London on the effectiveness of economic sanctions as a response to human rights violations in this country. Her PhD thesis ‘Constructing civil society in Myanmar: struggles for local change and global recognition’, written at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, was successfully defended at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam on 19 September 2016.

Maaike’s PhD thesis focuses on the views and identities of organised Burmese civil society actors, their transnational advocacy strategies, and their relationship with Western supporters. In her research she uses a social constructivist view on civil society and human rights, and draws on theories from anthropology, sociology, and development studies. For her thesis she conducted intermittent fieldwork in Myanmar and neighbouring countries between 2010 and 2015, documenting the changing climate for activists that started after the elections in November 2010. She has published articles on various topics including the challenges of conducting research in Myanmar, the role of non-state actors in Myanmar’s education system, and the relationship between foreign donors and local civil society organisations. She has presented her work at the Australian National University, Thammasat University, Oxford University and Lund University. She has also participated in the Burma Studies Conferences, the ISA Human Rights Conferences and the EuroSEAS Conferences, where she co-organised a panel on Myanmar in 2015.

Maaike has worked for various human rights organisations in The Netherlands on issues such as discrimination, international justice, and refugee rights. She currently serves as a country of origin information researcher at the Dutch Council for Refugees (Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland) and as a board member of the Dutch Foundation for Peace Studies, where she focuses on supporting the research capacity of young Master graduates in the field of peace and conflict studies. She organised a conference on the protection of civilians in Syria in 2013, and a seminar on religious violence against Muslim minorities in Southeast Asia in 2015, both of which were held at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She has been teaching regularly at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Amsterdam University College.


Publications (Source: VU METIS)