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Completed PhD's


Maria Chipenembe-Ngale

On 6 September Maria Chipenembe-Ngale defended her PhD in Gender and Diversity called “Sexual Rights Activism in Mozambique. A qualitative case study of civil society organisations and experiences of lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons”.

Maria Defence

Carlos Eduardo Cuinhane

On 10 July Carlos Eduardo Cuinhane defended his PhD ‘Perceptions and Practices Regarding Pregnancy Care and Infant Feeding among Mothers Living with HIV in Rural Maputo Province, Mozambique: a sociological study’. Findings of this study confirm HIV-positive mothers have mixed perceptions and practices. Although they engaged in multiple medically recommended practices during pregnancy care, childbirth and infant feeding, they also did not always comply with medical advice to protect against passing HIV from a mother to her infant. Furthermore, the results of this study showed HIV-positive men and grandmothers often supported HIV-positive mothers urging them to comply with at least some biomedical norms. Whereas male partners perceived themselves as family providers, grandmothers positioned themselves as representatives of the family on maternal and child healthcare at the family level. These actors also played an important role in decision-making regarding pregnancy care, childbirth and infant feeding. Despite this role, male partners and grandmothers did not support HIV-positive mothers to breastfeed their infants exclusively. This attitude can be explained by a lack of knowledge about recommended medical advice. As well, exclusive breastfeeding is not supported by the community.

Serena D’Agostino

On 6 September 2018, Serena D’Agostino defended her PhD thesis entitled “Romani Women in European Politics. Exploring Multi-Layered Political Spaces for Intersectional Policies and Mobilizations”. Her promoters were Prof. Dr. Ilke Adam and Prof. Dr. Karen Celis. As a PhD researcher at the IES, Serena was a part of the joint research programme Evaluating Democratic Governance in Europe (EDGE) and the IES cluster Migration, Diversity and Justice. Serena is also a member of the VUB "RHEA Centre of Expertise on Gender, Diversity & Intersectionality" and an associate member of the European Academic Network on Romani Studies. Her PhD research project investigates how the EU contributes to shaping Romani women's policies and politics both nationally – i.e. mostly in Romania and Bulgaria – and transnationally. The Institute for European Studies would like to congratulate Dr Serena D’Agostino for successfully defending her PhD thesis. 

Defence Serena

Soumia Akachar

On 17 April Soumia Akachar defended her PhD 'Representation in the Eyes of the Beholder? Flemish Muslim youth on (not) feeling politically represented’. This dissertation centers around the following understudied research question: what makes people feel politically represented? This study applies a novel research design to investigating how Flemish Muslim youth feels politically represented. The group oriented methodology consists of two consecutive rounds of focus group discussions with the same respondents, complemented with discussions on Facebook group pages (digital ethnography of groups). Contrary to the ways in which social group representation has studied so far, mostly by focusing on the roles and activities of representatives and/or the representation of group interests, the study shifts the focus to those represented in an inductive and explorative manner and furthers our understanding of how people motivate their feelings of not being politically represented.

2015 - 2016

Rehana Capurchande


On 19th December 2016 Rehana Capurchande defended her doctoral dissertation titled "Unravelling the Mosaic Discourses and Practices about Family Planning". Het doel van deze studies was "to understand how family planning policy is framed by the relevant policymakers and how it is implemented by the main actors identified in these policies. Therefore, this research examines how the discourses of relevant actors are produced, what they say, know and do, as well as what is asserted to be problematic or not problematic within family planning. In addition, it is important to understand the main actors‟ experiences addressing or using family planning services within their social context".  (Promotor: Prof. Gily Coene (VUB) - Co-promotor prof. Herman Meulemans (UA))


2014 - 2015

Sophie Withaeckx

Op 17 September 2014 verdedigde Sophie Withaeckx haar proefschrift met als titel ‘Eer, gender en geweld in een context van migratie. Een empirisch-ethisch onderzoek naar betekenissen en beleving van eer en eergerelateerd geweld, met Vlaanderen als case-study’,  levert een bijdrage aan de wetenschappelijke theorievorming rond multiculturaliteit, diversiteit en gendergerelateerd geweld. (Promotor: Prof Dr Gily Coene - Copromotor: Prof Dr Els Leye). Exemplaren van het proefschrift kunnen verkregen worden bij Sophie Withaeckx.

Tizta Tilahun Degfie

Op 7 november 2014 heeft Tizta Tilahun Degfie haar doctoraatsproefschrift verdedigd getiteld 'Marital dynamics in family planning: the role of couple interaction in Jimma Zone, Southwest Ethiopia', aan de Faculteit der Geneeskunde en Gezondheidswetenschappen van de Universiteit Gent. (Promotor: Prof. Dr. Olivier Degomme, Co-Promotor: Prof. Dr. Gily Coene).