UCL Anthropology


Sabine de Graaf


UCL Email: sabine.graaf.16@ucl.ac.uk
Year of Start: 2016
Supervisors: Dr. Ruth Mandel (UCL Anthropology) and Prof. Henrietta Moore (IGP)
Subject: Social Anthropology
Fieldsite: Greece

PhD Research

A future in the making: Waiting, hoping and networking. A research project on Syrian refugees in Greece navigating the uncertainties of their situation.

In my doctoral research, I analyse the power of hope in imagining future possibilities. I seek to gather an in-depth understanding of refugees' notions of their future in relation to migration, to see how they "can create a good beyond what is presently given in their lives" (Robbins 2013: 458). Via twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork in Lesvos and Athens, Greece, I'm collecting data on refugees' ideas and imaginations of the future, and the knowledge they have regarding migration whilst living in protracted, temporary conditions. Furthermore, I inquire how refugees gather, produce and share knowledge via their personal and digital networks. By observing their online and social media presence, I will seek to understand how these interactions reflect, nurture and/or disrupt refugees' notions of and possibilities for the future.

Research Interests

My research interest lie in migration, refugees, uncertainty, vulnerability, hope and temporality. 


de Graaf, S. (2016)The Construction and Use of Hope within Health‐Settings: Recent Developments in Qualitative Research and Ethnographic Studies. Sociology Compass 10 (7): 603-612
Brown, P., de Graaf, S., Hillen, M., Smets, E., Laarhoven, H.W. (2015)The interweaving of pharmaceutical and medical expectations as dynamics of micro-pharmaceuticalisation: advanced-stage cancer patients' hope in medicines alongside trust in professionals. Social Science & Medicine 131: 313-321
Brown, P., de Graaf, S. and Hillen, M. (2015)The inherent tensions and ambiguities of hope: Towards a post-formal analysis of experiences of advanced-cancer patients. Health 19 (2): 207-225
Brown, P. & de Graaf, S. (2013)Considering a future which might not exist: the construction of time and expectations amidst advanced-stage cancer. Health, Risk & Society 15 (6): 543-560

Presentations & Conferences

Caught between Hopes and Fears: The construction of hope in a cancer trial. Qualitative Cancer Research: Taking Stock, Stepping Further. Berlin School of Public Health, Berlin, Germany, April 2014

Teaching Experience

Before moving to London, I worked as a junior lecturer at the University of Amsterdam where I taught a variety of undergraduate courses at the departments of Anthropology and Sociology.

Bachelor Anthropology
Introduction to cultural anthropology
Introduction to non-western sociology
Philosophy of science for anthropologists
Ethnographic Writing Practical
Discipline Module 1: Theory and History of Anthropology (DM1)
Methods and Techniques 3 (M&T3)
Bachelor SociologyIntroduction to related disciplines (Political Science, Planning and Social Geography, Anthropology)

Education History

I hold a BSc in Cultural Anthropology and Sociology (2011) , and an MSc in Medical Anthropology (2013) from the University of Amsterdam. I also received a Bachelor in Commerce from Business University Arnhem (2008).

Honours, Awards & Funding

  • AHRC London Arts and Humanities Partnership Research Studentship (2017-2019)
  • University of Amsterdam Junior Teacher Award (2016)