Research stay in Ghent, Belgium

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor ghent university

From September 2018 until January 2019, I am living and working in Ghent, Belgium. As part of my joint doctorate (or ‘double degree’), I’m enrolled as a doctoral student at the University of Ghent. I will join my colleagues of the Centre for Research on Culture and Gender at the Faculty of Arts and Science. The Centre brings together scholars and students from various disciplinary backgrounds in the arts, humanities and social sciences interested in the study of culture in intersection with gender and/or other identity markers such as sexuality, ethnicity, class, nation and religion. The director of the centre is prof. dr. Chia Longman, anthropologist in gender, ethnicity and comparative religion, and one of the supervisors of my PhD trajectory.

These few months in Ghent will be primarily dedicated to writing, as I am currently working on book chapters (to be published in Routledge edited volumes), articles (both popular and academic) and my overall PhD thesis. I’ll dive into the ethnographic material gathered the past year on one of the three cases, namely converted Jewish women in the NetherlandFoto 1s. How, why and where does one become Jewish? What does this mean for performances and experiences of gender and sexuality? These and many more questions regarding Jewish gendered life will be on my mind, you are more than welcome to share your thoughts or questions on the matter.

In the upcoming months, several events are planned. September starts with a three-day seminar on Critical Ethnography Later, I will present my research at the 3rd International Conference of the International Association for the study of Religion and Gender (IARG), which is taking place on 26-27 November in the city of Ghent. The conference “Sexual and Gendered Moralities” aims to bring together scholars from different disciplines researching the relationship between sexuality, gender, religion and ethical life in contemporary society. I’ll participate with a paper presentation on converted Jewish women’s sexuality titled “Gender and Giur: Sex, Gender and Ethics among Jewish converts in the Netherlands.”




Feminist roundtable about Claudia de Breij’s New Years Eve performance

Image result for claudia de breij oudejaarsconference

© ANP Kippa

I had the pleasure of working on a round table article with four of my dearest Belgian and Dutch colleagues. Academia tends to be a little slow at times, but our debate about Claudia de Breij’s New Years Eve performance (‘oudjaarsconference’) continues to be relevant. Though we started with de Breij’s performance, it quickly led us to a broader discussion about diversity, gender, race and religion in contemporary Dutch public debate.

Citation: Geerts, Evelien; Van Raemdonk, An; van den Brandt, Nella; Schrijvers, Lieke; van den Berg, Mariecke (2018). De oudejaarsconference van Claudia de Breij: Een diffractieve, interdisciplinaire discussie over (super)diversiteit, gender, seksualiteit en religie in de Lage Landen. Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies 21(1): 81-104.

See here for the full article, in Dutch, in Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies. 


This written version of various conversations came into being as a response to Dutch entertainer Claudia de Breij’s 2016 New Year’s Eve cabaret performance. We were enticed to write something about this performance because of the numerous ambiguities that were present in it. What was striking was the fact that we, a group of Dutch and Belgian academics and activists, working in different disciplines but united by our mutual interests in and passion for the themes of (super-)diversity, gender and sexuality, and religion and societal matters, each interpreted this performance differently. From a conciliatory, interconnecting cabaret performance in which alterity and difference were (re)presented as something positive, to a performance that confirmed already-existing stereotypes rather than subverting them: all these different interpretations and impressions are explained in detail in the following diffractive dialogue that was engendered by and through various conversations that took place in Utrecht, the Netherlands in January, May, August, and September 2017.


Schrijvers (p. 100) : “Na de recente verkiezingsuitslagen van de VS en Nederland, waarbij de extreemrechtse PVV de tweede grootste partij is geworden, lijken meer gematigde partijen in het politieke landschap voor een nieuw dilemma te staan: in hoeverre is het nodig intolerant te zijn om idealen van vrijheid en gelijkheid te beschermen? Deze vragen zijn zowel gericht naar etnischculturele minderheden als naar xenofobe politici zelf: hoe ver kunnen de Nederlandse idealen van gelijkheid en vrijheid gaan, wanneer dit voor anderen een gevoel van onveiligheid kan veroorzaken? Dit zijn vragen die ik vaak hoor in het politiek debat, maar volgens mijn feministische en antiracistische hart de plank compleet misslaan, aangezien het discriminatie en uitsluiting in de hand werkt door middel van nationalistische retoriek. Het zijn wel de dilemma’s waar De Breij op inhaakt, en waar het hele conflict zich dus situeert. Uiteindelijk biedt zij, zoals het een goed verhaal betaamt, tot op zekere hoogte een oplossing voor dit conflict. De Breij is
immers kritisch over dit nationalistische discours, wat inderdaad zou kunnen leiden tot politieke actie. Tegen het einde van de voorstelling, echter, is de conclusie dat Nederland toch echt een ‘gaaf land’ is, en roept de cabaretière op om allemaal ‘wat liever’ te zijn voor elkaar als oplossing voor de verharding van het politieke klimaat. Na een dergelijk kritische voorstelling vind ik dit zelf eerlijk gezegd een wat teleurstellende uitkomst, waarbij de toeschouwer toch met een positief en hoopvol gevoel de zaal verlaat, en het conflict opgelost lijkt te zijn.

New publication: Interview with Gloria Wekker

897088ec-61df-4e18-a04e-bea64dedea90White Innocence: Reflections on Public Debates and Political-Analytical Challenges. An Interview with Gloria Wekker

DiGeSt: Journal of Diversity and Gender Studies Volume 5 Issue 1 (2018)
Nella van den Brandt, Lieke Schrijvers, Amal Miri, and Nawal Mustafa.

You can find the journal here . A pre-print version of the article is available on my Academia page.

I had the pleasure of interviewing prof. dr. emirita Gloria Wekker with three dear colleagues in the Winter of 2017. With great pride and gratitude toward everyone included in the process, I can now announce that the edited and translated version of this conversation has been published in the journal DiGeSt

This contribution is an interview with social and cultural anthropologist of Surinamese-Dutch background Gloria Wekker. It discusses the debate that ensued in the Netherlands after the publication of her book White Innocence (2016), now translated in Dutch as Witte Onschuld (2017). The interview covers the reception of the book, Wekker’s future work, and her legacy for the academic as well as public debates about gender and race. It goes into methodological questions concerning intersectional analysis and the notion of race as a social construct. Although all of us have a different academic and social background, what we have in common is that Gloria Wekker inspired us for many years. Although we came in touch with Wekker many years ago as a professor in Gender and Ethnicity, she became a public figure after the publication of the book White Innocence. In White Innocence Gloria Wekker explores a central paradox of Dutch culture: the passionate denial of racial discrimination and colonial violence coexisting alongside aggressive racism and xenophobia. Accessing a cultural archive built over 400 years of Dutch colonial rule, Wekker fundamentally challenges Dutch racial exceptionalism by undermining the dominant narrative of the Netherlands as a “gentle” and “ethical” nation. Wekker shifts attention in debates on racism from the victimization of people of colour, to a critical mirror and analysis of whiteness, which sparked many debates in public and political life. 

Through reading and discussing Gloria Wekker’s  work and organising the interview, we hoped to learn more about how we, variously situated in our own disciplines and contexts, could further develop the interdisciplinary and intersectional study of gender through rethinking issues such as race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, and class. Given our various disciplinary backgrounds (anthropology, sociology, law, gender studies, religiousstudies), social positions and upbringings (in terms of race, ethnicity, religion-secularity, sexuality, national/regional backgrounds), and life experiences, we learned a great deal about the different ways in which we all connected and responded to Wekker’s writing.