I’m a PhD candidate (promovendus) at the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Faculty of Humanities, Utrecht University (employed Sept. 2013 – Febr. 2017). My PhD project is part of the NWO funded research project “Contested Privates: The Oppositional Pairing of Religion and Homosexuality in Contemporary Public Discourse in the Netherlands” (2013-2017), situated at the Amsterdam Center for the Study of Lived Religion. My first supervisor (promotor) is prof. Anne-Marie Korte (Professor of Religion and Gender at Utrecht University) and my second supervisor is prof. Ruard Ganzevoort (Professor of Practical Theology at VU Amsterdam). Dr. David Bos and dr. Mariecke van den Berg have been working as postdocs at VU Amsterdam until May 2016, and are still involved in the project. An academic conference is scheduled for 26-28 October 2017 in Utrecht.
My project starts from the observation that in recent decades the public perception of both religion and sexual diversity has changed fundamentally. While religion is increasingly considered to be a private matter, sexual diversity has gained public importance. And whereas religious identity, long accepted as a matter of course, steadily has become contested in its public and most characteristic manifestations, acceptance of sexual diversity is now often presented as a prerequisite for modern citizenship. Conflicts about religion and homosexuality are, therefore, an important source for studying the connecting and dividing functions of religion in contemporary society. This project, then, focuses on the strategic and ideological assumptions, interests, and effects of present-day constructions of (homo)sexuality and religion in public discourse. Its aim is to map out the social, political, and cultural dimensions of framing religion and homosexuality as polarized constructs. The central question is: how are religion and homosexuality construed as oppositional pairings in contemporary Dutch society? The project will uncover and analyze oppositional pairings of religion and homosexuality in political debates, public counseling and information, and popular culture. The critical analysis, bearing on feminism and queer studies, will unmask stereotypes and uncover subtexts with alternative constructions of both homosexuality and religion, contributing to ways of overcoming the polarized state of affairs.
My doctoral dissertation will not be a monograph, but a collection of articles plus an introduction and a conclusion. I write about e.g. the reception of pronouncements by Pope Benedict XVI in the Netherlands; debates about marriage registrars with conscientious objections (weigerambtenaren); and debates about alleged gay healing therapy at Different. I hope to finish my thesis in 2017.
Updates about my research (and other issues) can be found on the News page.