Miriam (Mimi) Adelina Ocadiz Arriaga is a multidisciplinary researcher and creative writer focusing on migration and mobility from an (African) feminist and decolonial perspective. Her very first studies were Hispanic Literature and Language at UNAM in Mexico, her home country, followed by a bachelor’s degree in International Studies at Leiden University where she specialized in African Culture and Politics. She then did a two-year research master’s degree in African Studies (cum laude) devoted to Cuban medical cooperation in Mozambique and the contemporary embodiment of solidarity. Under the supervision of Professor Mayke Kaag, her dissertation was awarded by the Expertise Center for Humanitarian Communication Netherlands.
In line with her passion for critical migration studies, she has been a PhD candidate at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam since 2018 within the Refugee Academy project Engaged Scholarship Narratives of Change. Under the guidance of Doctor Phoebe Kisubi Mbasalaki, Doctor Tara Fiorito and Professor Halleh Ghorashi, Mimi has theorized and practised manifestations of concern that enable epistemic justice, which in turn supports the decolonization of academia. Her projects include Food for Change, an initiative with eight forced migrant women in Gqeberha, and the Chakalaka Sessions, a brunch series with LGBTQI+ migrants in Johannesburg. Both projects are about how food helps create unexpected pathways to transform asymmetrical power structures.
‘I want to connect my own PhD trajectory to the society, policy-making and creative initiatives that are growing in the Netherlands, South Africa and worldwide. I hope to contribute to the Refugee Academy from a humble position, with a critical perspective on engaged scholarship.’
What is your academic background and expertise?
I have a multidisciplinary background focused on African studies. My first studies were Spanish literature and language at UNAM in Mexico, followed by a bachelor’s in international studies where I specialized in African culture and politics. Then I devoted a research master’s in African Studies to Cuban medical cooperation in Mozambique and the contemporary embodiment of solidarity. Through my personal and academic background, I have developed a passion for South-South cooperation from a decolonial perspective, along with migration processes in relation to diversity.
Welke rol heb jij binnen de Refugee Academy?
Momenteel ben ik een PhD-kandidaat binnen het door NWO VICI-gefinancieerde project over Engaged Scholarship, waar ik me richt op de context van Zuid-Afrika en de vergelijking met de Verenigde Staten en Nederland. Mijn werk vertaalt zich naar dagelijkse onderzoeksactiviteiten, netwerken en het delen van perspectieven tussen de drie landen met betrekking tot kwesties van maatschappelijke uitsluiting, waarbij de Refugee Academy een voorbeeldig platform voor dialoog is.
What do you think is most important within the Refugee Academy, and why?
The time and space to discuss, build personal relationships and exchange issues, as well as opportunities, are an important step in promoting social inclusion from the bottom up. The balance between a bold and safe space that the Refugee Academy demonstrates provides a rather unusual platform to build those reflective capacities while shifting that power imbalance by enabling different voices to contribute to a more horizontal dialogue.
What is your ambition within Refugee Academy, and how would you connect this to your work and personal life outside of Refugee Academy?
My main goal at the Refugee Academy is to learn about the role of academia in society, especially in relation to the social inclusion of refugees/migrants. I want to connect my own doctoral project with civil society, policy-making and creative initiatives that are increasing in the Netherlands, South Africa and worldwide. I really hope to contribute to the Refugee Academy from a humble position with a critical perspective on engaged scholarship.
Refugee Academy- related projects :
– Engaged Scholarship and Narratives of Change