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About us Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies Research CRCG Research Clusters

Sexuality, Gender, and Religion

Conveners: Kim Knibbe and Brenda Bartelink

The boundaries between the religious and the secular are constantly negotiated and renegotiated within modernity. Perhaps nowhere is this process of negotiation more acute than in relation to conceptions of gender and sexuality across diverse cultural contexts.

This research cluster focuses on the ways that issues concerning gender and sexuality become a flashpoint for the establishment of the religious/secular divide. It problematizes secularist (post-feminist, homo-nationalist) understandings of gender and sexuality and examines how both religion and secularism play a significant role in how gendered difference and sexual identities are formulated and enacted.

The cluster is currently involved in a research project funded by the Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research, which is due to run from January 2016 to December 2020:

Sexuality, Religion and Secularism: Cultural encounters in the African Diaspora in the Netherlands

This project studies the different ways sexual well-being is understood and approached in the African Diaspora in the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, a secularist notion of sexual well-being is dominant. Within this understanding of sexual health, religion and tradition are often seen as obstacles for a responsible approach to sexuality. The clashes and misunderstandings this can produce became clear during the controversy around media reports on so-called “HIV-healings” that were supposedly taking place in African dominated Pentecostal churches in Amsterdam. In many African contexts, by contrast, religion and “traditional” healing practices may play a large role in how sexual well-being is understood and approached. The project is divided into three sub-projects, corresponding to three different groups of actors and perspectives on the intersections of these different approaches: organisations working from a sexual health paradigm both secular and religious; religious actors in the African Diaspora; and African migrants in the Netherlands themselves.

Please contact the cluster conveners for more information.

Last modified:07 November 2018 11.53 a.m.