Beyond Religion versus Emancipation. Gender and Sexuality in Women's Conversion to Judaism, Christianity and Islam in Contemporary Western Europe.


In post-9/11 Western societies and academic debates, the notion that religion and women?s emancipation are fundamentally conflicting has regained plausibility. Consequently, women?s deliberate religious conversions are a pertinent academic, religious and socio-political issue. In face of this religion/emancipation paradox, this research project will apply interdisciplinary methods to study women?s processes of conversion as the acquisition of new religious subjectivities in which gender and sexuality play a formative role. The project hypothesises that gender equality and women?s sexuality are ?battlefields? on which converting women negotiate their position and subjectivity. It assumes that the conversion process is notably acted out in the context of public debates and religious prescriptions that highlight women?s positions and sexualities in adversative directions. By studying female conversion as an ongoing and multi-layered negotiation between secular and religious gender discourses, the project develops an innovative model of interpretation, based on a diversification of notions of choice, embodiment and religion. Its operationalisation takes place through three subprojects: a qualitative empirical PhD research on women?s embodied conversion processes in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; a postdoctoral cultural analysis of British, Dutch and Flemish public debates on controversies about traditional religious groups, gender and sexuality; and a postdoctoral religious studies approach investigating women?s positions and practices as narrated and regulated within Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions. This comparative interdisciplinary project will contribute substantially to the public and academic understandings of tensions between religious and secular gender discourses through in-depth analysis of the experiences of women positioned at the intersection of both.





Prof. dr. A.J.A.C.M. Korte

Verbonden aan

Universiteit Utrecht, Faculteit Geesteswetenschappen, Religiewetenschap en Theologie


Dr. C.A.M. van den Berg, Dr. H.P. van den Brandt, L.L. Schrijvers MA