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Our interns


Lennart Janes Matthias (February-July 2019) came to Belfast in February 2019 to work on his diploma thesis and stayed until July. He studies German and English at the University of Graz, Austria, and is in his last year of the Austrian secondary education teaching diploma degree. A philologist at heart, but an avid political observer as well, he researches political/social identity and conflict in German Hip Hop lyrics. He hopes to learn from the study of ethnic conflict on the island of Ireland and especially about the role of music in projecting the conflict. He stated that "the stay in Belfast has been very productive because I've been able to discuss my research with various specialists in the field in a welcoming academic environment."

Vanessa Rao (January-June 2019)

Serena Brugnaro (February-May 2019) holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Language, Civilisation and the Science of Language and is currently enrolled in the Master’s Degree course of Comparative International Relations at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. Her interest in international politics and history was the main reason for choosing the Centre for the Study of Ethnic Conflict for her internship. While in Belfast, she also researched for her masters thesis focused on the use of referenda in Europe.

Kirsten Mullin came to Belfast in her last year of undergraduate studies at Haverford College in the United States (2018), where she is a major in Political Science and a minor in Economics. Throughout her academic career, she has focused on international politics. She is particularly interested in the intersection between gender and conflict, which is part of the reason she was drawn to come work at Queen's. Her senior thesis is titled "What Explains Variations in SEA Allegations in UN Peacekeeping Missions?: A Case Study on MONUC and UNMIS." After graduation, she plans on continuing her work on the intersections of gender and conflict. In addition to her interest in conflict research, Kirsten was drawn to Queen's by the natural beauty and culture of Northern Ireland. Throughout her time in Belfast, Kirsten enjoyed exploring both the city of Belfast and the rest of the country.  Her favorite spots include the Mournes, the Antrim Coast and the Botanic Gardens!

Andra Cojocaru had graduated from Postgraduate course in Language and Civilization of Asia and Mediterranean Africa, specifically Japanese language and literature, at Ca’ Foscari University, Venice in October 2017 and spent the spring between February and May 2018 in Belfast. Her interest had always been in the literature and specifically children's literature, and representation of diverse minority groups therein. More recently she broadened her field of interest to include also the contemporary young adult fiction and researching the representation of minorities, both in quantity and quality. While in Belfast she focused on the modern young adult and teen fiction of the fantasy genre, and particularly on the series rather than standalones. She focussed on this subject in order to later apply to do a PhD in the field. While at the Centre, Andra researched minority rights issues in Croatia and especially the changes in that country’s policies during the EU accession process and since 2015. She says, "I enjoyed my time in Belfast because it helped me understand what it is that I wish to do after my graduation and most importantly find a research subject that follows my passion for and interest in the modern topics that are relevant in today’s academic field."

Vera Trevisiol interned at the Centre between January and March 2018, while writing up her BA dissertation for Ca 'Foscari University, Venice, Italy, where she studies Philosophy and International Economic Studies. During her time at QUB she researched her graduate dissertation on perceptions of immigration as a source of crime across Europe. "The time I spent in Belfast, especially in the environment of Queens University, allowed me to learn a lot about Northern Ireland itself, and about the complex history of the city of Belfast. What struck me most was how some of the past are still very evident on the people and across the city itself. Even if I consider Belfast a city that in recent years is changing a lot in all its cultural, architectural and political aspects. Moreover, the atmosphere of the university itself and the immersion in the academic field that I had thanks to this internship, stimulated me very much inn the writing of my thesis”. Vera is now pursuing a Master degree in International Security Studies offered jointly by Sant’Anna School of Pisa and the University of Trento.

Tajda Ferko was a Visiting researcher/MA student from February to May 2017She arrived in Belfast as a Postgraduate student (Master's) in Cultural Studies, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia to conduct fieldwork for her MA project. Her research interest is at the intersection of cultural studies and sociology, with a particular focus on feminist theory and gender related activism in the UK. She has written a BA thesis on student feminist societies in the UK. As a researcher at QUB, her work examines perceptions associated with the LGBT identity in a divided society. "Beyond feminist theory and LGBT studies, her research engages with different strands of cultural and social studies, including post-structuralism, intersectionality, minority politics and environmental cultural studies. She stated that having the opportunity to carry out part of her MA research at QUB gave her an invaluable perspective on ethnic, cultural and political factors influencing LGBT people in Northern Ireland. Tajda is working on the following papers at the moment: Student Feminist Societies in the UK in Relation to Intersectionality and Third-Wave Feminism" and "Being LGBT in a Divided Society: Case Study of Northern Ireland".

Anja Pećnik interned at the Centre between February and June 2017. She arrived at the end of her MA studies in in Psychology at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, Croatia. Her interest in social psychology, specifically ethnic relations and minority rights was the main reason for her decision to pick Queen's. While in Belfast, she researched the role civil society groups play in the protection of minority rights in the Western Europe and in the Western Balkans. She has assisted in organising several research conferences, particularly, the IPSA Colloquium "Democratization and Constitutional Design in Divided Societies" held on Cyprus in June 2017. "The time spent in Belfast was very useful for a better understanding of the political background to managing ethnic relations and minority issues in divided societies."

Ilse Staal was an intern at the Centre between April and June 2017, while writing her MA thesis. She holds a Bachelor in Human Geography at the University of Utrecht and studied for a master degree at the Radboud University Nijmegen on Conflict, Territories and Identities. She went to Belfast for three months to undertake field work research for her master thesis on the impact of the Brexit on the peace-building process in Northern Ireland. "The internship has been very useful to get a better understanding of a post-conflict situation and its influence on the daily live. For me it was interesting to see how the conflict is still very visible in Belfast."

Elisa Tognon was an intern between February and April 2017, arriving as a student intern from Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy. She came to Queens University Belfast during her last year of undergraduate studies in Language, Culture and Languages Science, with a particular focus on International Relations. During her stay, she had the opportunity to experience teaching and learning at Queen's and enrich her knowledge on minorities’ rights and ethnic conflict. She was particulary interested in Russia and features of its politics for her master's dissertation. "Spending my internship in Belfast allowed me to learn more about Northern Ireland itself, its history and its cultural background. I have enjoyed the friendly atmosphere and the international environment of Queens University, my encounters with motivated students and lecturers from all over the world have made this a unique experience."

Vanessa Tautter interned at the Centre between September and December 2015. Vanessa studied History and English at the University of Graz, Austria, at Maynooth University, Ireland and at West Virginia University, United States and completed the diploma programme at the University of Graz with a thesis on “The Rising, the Somme and the Agreement: Political Memories in Northern Irish History Education”. The internship contributed greatly to the quality of her research project, as she could draw from QUB’s extensive resources in the field, participate in workshops, attend conferences and conduct fieldwork in addition to gaining direct insight into everyday life in contemporary Northern Ireland while living in Belfast.

“Conducting research in Belfast allowed me to see the underlying complexities behind the influence competing narratives about the past continue to have on formal history education in Northern Ireland.” More recently, Vanessa has been interested in the transcultural aspects of processes of memory contestation and transformation facilitated by societal factors. She is currently in the early stage of conducting research for her PhD project with the working title “Contestation and Transformation of Memory Cultures: The Impact of Social Divisions on Memory Building”. Vanessa is currently a PhD student at the University of Brighton.

Antonella Acinapura has been a research intern at QUB since April 2016. Her main academic interest is in contentious politics approach to study political violence in the Middle East. Specifically, she is interested in analyzing the short term components that influence violent strategies pursued by groups operating in deeply divided societies. This interest has been developing during the preparation of her MA thesis, in which she has carried out a comparative analysis of the two radical movements, the Israeli Kach and the Palestinian Hamas. She has analysed the factors affecting these groups’ formation during the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process.

After graduating with an MA in Middle East Politics and Economics from Ca’ Foscari University Venice, she came to Belfast to take part in an internship programme at the Centre for the Study of Ethnic Conflict. “The connection between the Northern Ireland political situation and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict made this experience extremely useful: here, I had the opportunity to understand deeper -  in a broader sense - the core of my interest, including political violence, nationalism and ethnic conflicts in deeply divided societies”. At QUB, her main duties have been supporting with the literature research, assisting in the organization of conferences and academic events, and reviewing and copyediting papers submitted for the publication in journal Nationalism and Ethnic Politics. Antonella is currently a PhD student in Queen's Belfast.

Martine Szetela returned as an intern to the Centre between April to May 2015 after spending her Erasmus year from Sciences Po Lyon in Belfast in 2012-2013. She chose to do an internship in Belfast because her final year's academic subject was dealing with the Europeanisation of the French minority language policies and the role members of parliament played in the process. "The internship allowed me to see Centre's publishing activity from the inside and exchange in discussions with Timofey on the matter of my dissertation because my French supervisors could not offer advise in the suject area. Helping in the editing process of Centre's publications helped me to attain better knowldge of the latest resources on minority issues across Europe." Martine is now a teacher of economics and social sciences in high school in France after passing the national public exam in 2016. "My internship helped me remember my times during the Erasmus year and to widen my understanding of my thesis' subject: helped me reading closely both in English and in French which was useful when studying for later exams. This has also equipped me with a broad base of cases that I can use when teacing political regulations and contemporary politics in my classes."

Marta Galiazzo was an MA student in English Literature and Cultural Studies at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice when visiting as an intern at the Centre, October - December 2014. Her main interests were in historical development of British culture, focusing particularly on how society and culture impact on literature and art. She was also interested in linguistics and translation, as well as in drama from the Elizabethan and Jacobean era. While in Belfast, she was helping the editor-in-chief of the Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, Prof emeritus Adrian Guelke and, in her free time, translated an anthology of English traveller writings on the Venice Ghetto (16-19th centuries).

At the time of her internship October - December 2013, Adriana Paradiso was MA student in International Relations at the Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Italy. Her main interest at the time was in contemporary Brazilian politics. In particular, she was interested in the impact of Olympic Games in Rio 2016 on the urban context in Brazil: both the gentrified executive centre and the favelas. She is also interested in the immigrant situation at the Mexican-American border. Besides, having a background in foreign languages and cultures, she is interested in how interethnic contacts impact language development and are reflected in sociolinguistic phenomena.  She was working at her dissertation titled  “Rio 2016: gains and damages of Olympic Games in Brazil".