Focus on migration and borders
After studying at Radboud University in Nijmegen in the Netherlands, Rodrigo Bueno Lacy is now working on a post-doc research project titled "Freeing Narcissus Through Migrant Eyes: Dismantling Europe’s Image and Re-Imagining the Possibilities of European Identity". It will continue the themes and a methodological refinement of his doctoral research but also aims at broadening the historiographical scope of its critique as well as the geopolitical expansion of its case studies.
"My focus, particularly, lies on migration, for I consider it, from a philosophical understanding of borders as markers of difference as well as of reason of its prominence in the current political debate across the EU, as the most telling phenomenon to analyse how Europeans see themselves, what they consider their culture to be and what they consider to be foreign to it."
Rodrigo Bueno Lacy is interested in how maps in particular, and other deceivingly little images in general, shape the fate of entire political collectivities. The images of the world they conjure up seem to guide the big images which we are used to seeing in history books, in the media and in the everyday tragedies of borders, he reminds.
"This connection between little images and big geopolitics nourished my interest for the geographical and cartographic imaginations that create the politically consequential narratives that allow political communities, such as empires, states and supranational entities like the EU, to make sense of a world they never see – one cannot see migration; one can merely study it through representations such as statistics, photographs, videos, maps and other representations which, crucially, someone makes," Rodrigo Bueno Lacy explains.
His expectations of the YUFE Postdoctoral Programme are closely related to his research ambitions.
"I would like to write as much as possible towards the creation of an Imaginary of European identities, which I envision as a series of scientific publications as well as an iconological compendium that will bring together the visual tropes and motifs of European identity – accompanied by iconological analyses of their geographical provenance, identitary significance and geopolitical uses today."
Rodrigo Bueno Lacy is glad that both the YUFE alliance and the Karelian Institute at UEF see the value of his epistemic contributions.
"I will try to use this opportunity to explore the possibility of establishing a post-doctoral network with other recipients of this YUFE scholarship as well as with their universities. I believe this can be a first step to discuss with them how we could pool our experiences and personal resources in order to develop the YUFE network as well as its Quadruple Helix Process. In my very brief experience, networks are created as much by research interests as by personal affinity. This requires personal interaction of a sort that is not only entirely academic, but which also leaves space for socialisation in other atmospheres."
Similar interests, own perspectives
Rodrigo Bueno Lacy’s research topic suited Jussi Laine, Associate Professor at the Karelian Institute, who offers support and guidance for the YUFE post-doc at UEF. As a human geographer, Jussi Laine is also interested in a multidisciplinary approach to borders.
"Borders, rather than something in the margins, have always been at the heart of my research. Within border studies I have sought to explore the multiscalar production of borders and bring a critical perspective to bear on the relationship between state, territory, citizenship, and identity construction. This fits well with Rodrigo’s pursuit to destabilise taken-for-granted notions of Europeanness and free Europe from its shackles by proposing alternative imaginaries of European identities. It is promising for the future – not the least in terms of mutual learning – that we share similar interests and thematical, yet at the same time approach these from our own, distinguished perspectives."
The EU’s already completed FP7 project EUBORDERSCAPES, in which Rodrigo Bueno Lacy also participated and contributed to, explored different areas of conceptual change that were assumed to have concrete impacts on the ways borders both condition and are conditioned by different institutions and actors.
"This project had a profound impact of my own research career – and I dare to say that that it had also for Rodrigo’s,” says Jussi Laine.
YUFE for renewal of science and research
Jussi Laine describes Rodrigo Bueno Lacy as a very advanced, independent scholar with a strong ambition guiding his research.
"We very much look forward to welcoming Rodrigo Bueno Lacy to our team at the Karelian Institute and putting our minds together in terms of joint publications and new research proposals – both of which Rodrigo has plenty of practical experience – yet he is also very skilful in proceeding with his own work. Seldom have I seen a post-doc with such a clear vision and a work plan for the future."
Thinking outside the box can be very innovative in research.
"Rodrigo Bueno Lacy comes with great potential for the renewal of knowledge, and he challenges us to – perhaps – broaden our perspectives a bit beyond the conventional. I see that UEF can provide a fruitful base and likeminded contact for Rodrigo to pursue his research, and that he in turn can bring new, fresh ideas to us. I can easily image that not all universities would have seen the merits and potential of his bold research proposal, but I am extremely glad that the selection committee here did. If history is any indication, I can look forward to many intriguing conversations with him," says Jussi Laine.
Jussi Laine has high hopes for UEF’s involvement in the YUFE alliance particularly in the renewal of research. As the alliance is a strategic partnership between young research-intensive universities, it is the concrete research contents that matter most.
"This involves of course the quality of research, renewal of science and research, but also its effects and impact beyond academia. Individual scholars can do a lot to this extent, but also more consistent efforts are needed to bring a radical and lasting change that would allow us to reshape the ways research is conducted here at UEF. Here, YUFE can play a crucial role."