GMD alum, Anouk Jorna, wins esteemed Han Entzinger Thesis Award

Anouk Jorna, GMD Master's alumni (Public Administration track) was awarded the esteemed Han Entzinger Award for the best Master thesis on migration and diversity in 2022. Anouk wrote her thesis under the supervision of dr. Fiona-Katharina Seiger and dr. Asya Pisarevskaya. In her research, Anouk looked at the issue of liminal legality among Latin American immigrants in Florida, and how this affected their migration aspirations in the future.

Anouk JornaWhat was your reaction when you first won the award?

I was very surprised obviously! I was sitting on a beach in the Philippines when receiving the email, so the thesis wasn’t exactly on top of my mind anymore. It immediately felt like a great acknowledgment: for my work, for the stories (and dedicated time) of my respondents, and for the relevance of the issue of liminal legality.

What was your thesis about?

My thesis was about liminal legality among Latino immigrants in Florida. Liminal legality refers to those who are in ‘limbo’, a grey area between being documented and undocumented. For example, I interviewed a Venezuelan man (27 years old) who has been waiting for over 7 years for a first response to his asylum application. Living in liminal legality bears with it feelings of uncertainty and social and structural limitations for building a new life in the US.

How did I get to this topic? In the summer of 2018, I worked in a restaurant in the United States. There I became friends with two Guatemalan co-workers. They came to the United States with a coyote, to care for their families in Guatemala. Their stories shocked me: the dangerous journey, being separated from their families, and working over seventy hours a week; and we were only around eighteen years old at that time. Their experiences sparked my interest in irregular Latino immigration to the United States and my dedication to making a change in this area. Thus, the broad topic choice for this thesis was an easy one for me. I contacted these old friends again and a month later, I was on my way to Florida. I stayed in Miami, which turned out to be the right place to situate my research indeed. Every time I told somebody in Miami that I was conducting research on Latino immigrants their immediate response was: “well, you came to the right place!”

How did you experience the GMD programme and how did it contribute to your thesis writing?

I really liked the atmosphere in the GMD programme. The students were very supportive of one another (my fellow student connected me to a Salvadorian immigrant in Florida for example). Also, the programme allows you a lot of freedom in your thesis topic, methods, and location. While based in Miami, I was able to get good supervision via Zoom and email.

In the GMD programme, students were very supportive of one another".

What is life post-thesis looking like for you?

Currently, I am backpacking in South East Asia. I intend to return to the Netherlands at the beginning of April. I aspire to work for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which seems to be a good place to apply the knowledge and skills I gained in Governance of Migration & Diversity as well as Conflict Resolution (my previous master's).

What advice would you give students writing their theses now or in the next coming months?

Follow your passion! My topic choice was definitely not pragmatic, but it kept me extremely motivated for 5 months. Also, think about what methodology you like. For me, ethnographic methods make researching much more fun!