Dr. E.W. Bal

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+31 20 59 86703
faculteit der sociale wetensch ( afd. sociale en culturele antropologie )
Associate professor

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Promo Master Anthropology


Regional and thematic specialisations:

Anthropology and history of identity formation, ethnicity, migration, transnationalism, Indigenous Peoples, Indian Diaspora, Youth and Human Security 
South Asia (Bangladesh and India)




Master's Thesis in SCA including Graduate Seminar

Identity, Ethnicity and Nationalism


Board memberships and management tasks 2016/2017

Programme Director of MSc SCA and of BSc CAO
Member ODC
Member Management Team SCA



Photo Celebrating Holi in Noordwijkerhout 2013

 Migration, development, and citizenship: Notions of belonging and civic engagement among Indian (knowledge-) Migrants in The Netherlands and Return Migrants in India  

Over the last decade, various policies in the Netherlands and in India have been formulated in order to tap the potential economic growth spawned by skilled Indian migrants. These policies coincide with scientific and political discourses which see migration as development (MAD). In 2004, for example, the Dutch government launched new policies stimulating the immigration of highly-skilled labourers. Since then, the official number of Indian residents in the Netherlands has increased from 13,363 to 21,729 (in 2011). These developments are particularly remarkable since immigrants are increasingly perceived as a threat to national (social, cultural, economic and political) security and social cohesion. 

This research project starts from the premise that the connection between migration and development is conditional and contingent on migrants’ notions of belonging and civic engagement in both the host and sending country. We try to answer the following research questions: 

How do highly-skilled Indian migrants in the Netherlands and return-migrants in India define notions of belonging and civic engagement; how are these notions influenced by their personal (gendered) migration experiences (during and after migration), and how are they mediated by government policies and practices, and diaspora politics? See the project's website: Migration, Development and Citizenship

Two sub-projects: Research in the Netherlands and in India: We focus on Indian high skilled migrants in the Netherlands (main researcher Dr. Kate Kirk), and on return migrants in India (main research Dr. Ratnakar Tripathy)
This research projects is part of the NWO-funded program entiteld “Migration, development and conflict

Also see: Indian migration to the Netherlands, Country Report: Indian migration to the Netherlands. 2012, European University Institute.



“Back to the roots”: Indian diaspora and notions of belonging in Surinam and in the Netherlands. 
Between 2001-2005, I was involved in a research project on the
about the so-called Indian diaspora in Surinam and the Netherlands, better known as the Hindustanis, and their relation with India. Central issues were migration, transnationalism, religion, and identity formation. In this project, she worked closely together with Dr. Kathinka Sinha-Kerkhoff, senior research fellow of the International Institute for Social History (IISG) in Amsterdam. 

Book they ask if we eat frogs Identity formation and Garo ethnicity in Bangladesh 
Contrary to common ideas, Bangladesh is far from a homogenous nation-state. The country is inhabited by a large majority of Bengalis and over fifty cultural and religious minorities. In my study, “They ask if we eat frogs: Garo Ethnicitiy in Bangladesh, I analyze a number of key historical processes that have contributed to the articulation of the ethnic identities and boundaries. If you are interested, please read the introductory chapter.

 Relevant links:

 Website Ga het na       
 Website Indiawijzer


 Publications (Source: METIS VU)


Key publications

2010   A World of Insecurity. Anthropological perspectives on Human Security. Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Ellen Bal, Oscar Salemink, eds. London: Pluto Press.

2007   They ask if we eat frogs: Garo ethnicity in Bangladesh, Singapore: ISEAS Publishing, (IIAS/ISEAS Series on Asia). 

2005   Autobiography of an Indian Indentured Labourer: Munshi Rahman Khan (1874-1972) (with Kathinka Sinha-Kerkhoff & Alok Deo Singh (transl/eds.), New Delhi: Shipra.  


Selected articles


Ellen Bal & Erella Grassiani & Kate Kirk (2014) Neoliberal Individualism in Dutch Universities: Teaching Anthropology in an Insecure Environment. Learning and Teaching: the international journal of higher education in the social sciences, 7(3), 46-72.

Ellen Bal & Timour Claquin Chambugong (2014) The Borders that Divide, the Borders that Unite: (Re)interpreting Garo Processes of Identification in India and Bangladesh, Journal of Borderlands Studies, 29:1, 95-109: More information

Ellen Bal & Roos Willems (2014): Introduction: Aspiring migrants, local crises and the imagination of futures ‘away from home’, Identities: Global Studies in Culture andPower: More information

Ellen Bal (2014) Yearning for faraway places: the construction of migration desires among young and educated Bangladeshis in Dhaka, Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power: More information


Ancillary activities

No ancillary activities
Last changes Ancillary activities: Amsterdam 27 januari 2017