Elena Hernández M.A.

PhD Student | Mobility and Sorting Processes

Since October 2021, I have been working as a research assistant on Project B04 “Sorting with Care: Human Differentiation in Contact Zones of Support.” Together with Heike Drotbohm and Elena Reichl, I am interested in those distinctions that are made situationally relevant in places of support and solidarity. My research is focused on the greater Lisbon area in Portugal.

Previously, I completed my master’s degree in urban studies in Lisbon, through which I gained a deep acquaintance with the city. My fascination with urban issues can also be found in my research perspective. I am interested in the formation of (urban) spaces, the spatialization of social inequalities, for instance in informal housing, and diverging ideas of the “political” in contexts of urban social mobilization.

In Portugal, informal assistance is geared towards absorbing the ongoing consequences of austerity policies and overlapping crises and is thus part of the process of addressing the absence of welfare state assistance in certain constellations of human differentiation. My research is a participant observation of a network that advocates for the right to housing and two different neighborhood centers that aim to contribute to more social participation through food distribution and leisure activities.

I am interested in the relationship between notions of norms and deviance in dealing with urban poverty, in the production of collective experiences, in symbolic and constructed demarcations, and in (self-)conceptions and hierarchizations of (groups of) persons and needs embedded in the practice of helping.

Foto: Stephanie Füssenich