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Hidden in the night: Multimodal nocturnal ethnography of women migrant nightworkers in Ireland

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Monday, December 4, 2023, 1:30 pm – 3:10 pm

The Inequalities and Democracy Workgroup of the CEU Democracy Institute cordially invites you to its public seminar.

If you would like to attend, please register here.

Please keep in mind that external guests will not be able to enter the building without prior registration.


In crisis or normal times, in Ireland, women migrant nightworkers (thereafter WMN) move in the night as a means of earning a living. In this paper, I focus on how nightwork connects or separates them from the rest of the Irish society. The challenge for anthropologists is not only how to capture their mobilities in the night with diurnal anthropological methods, but also how to reveal what it means to be mobile in the hidden spaces of nightwork. Among the burning issues faced by WMN, some are lack to English language training, gender performativity expectations at work, isolation, invisibility, and bodily exhaustion from nightwork and sleeplessness. Using a multimodal approach, this paper explores such ethnographic challenges in as many dimensions as possible, combining cyber (mobile apps), digital (audio-visual), and nocturnal ethnography (night mapping of places, soundscapes, physical sensations and conversations) to capture WMN’s experiences that day research alone cannot. More, the paper shows how the researcher’s own data – transcribed into ‘bodily notes’ taken while immersed in night ethnographies on streets, at night markets, warehouses, indoor and outdoor workplaces – complements data collected from the WMN. Further, with gender lens on, the paper unpacks precarity, migration, and nightwork, to analyse the connects and disconnects between these dimensions. In this way, the paper brings new insights into the wider implications of marginalisation among WMN in the current labour migration system in Europe. 

The seminar starts with a 25-minute paper presentation followed by comments from the discussant. Discussion open to the audience follows. To actively take part in the discussion, please read the draft paper beforehand. The paper is available upon request from the authors. 


Julius-Cezar MacQuarie is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century, University College Cork, Ireland where he conducts a project on Precarity in Women Migrant Nightworkers in Dublin and Cork. Over the years, he reached out to people inhabiting the night in various capacities: as a night ethnographer, migration scholar, outreach worker and collaborator with NGOs working with vulnerable groups. His research interests include night work in the nighttime economy, decent work agenda, international migration, and multi-modal nocturnal ethnography on migration and labour related dynamics. His new book, published by Springer Cham in the IMISCOE Research Series, is entitled Invisible Migrants: Working the Night shift in 24/7 London.


Olena Fedyuk holds a PhD in Sociology and Social Anthropology from CEU. She is an MSCA IF fellow in the project “RightsLab: Towards Transnational Labour Rights? Temporary Work Agencies and Third Country National Workers in the EU” (2021-2024) at the University of Padua.  Her main academic interests include transnational migration, social reproduction of work, mediated employment and migrations, gendered employment in migration, solidarity and networks of support in migration. Alongside, her interests lie in research methodologies; she has written on qualitative methods in migration studies, visual methods and action research. Olena directed 2 documentary films; “Road of a Migrant” (2015) looks at the role of the church in migrants’ lives and “Olha’s Italian Diary” (2018) speaks of the taboos in personal stories for solo female migrants.


Violetta Zentai is a cultural anthropologist with a PhD from Rutgers University (USA). She was co-director of the Center for Policy Studies at the CEU (2003-2020). She joined the Democracy Institute of the CEU based in Budapest in 2020. She is also faculty member of the Department of Public Policy and visiting faculty at the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology of the CEU. She was one of the faculty members designing and launching public policy MA level teaching at the CEU. She is engaged in research focusing on ethnic and gender inequalities, European equality policies, and debates on post-socialist capitalisms and social exclusion/inclusion.