Contested Privates 2013-2017

Since 2013, prof. Anne-Marie Korte has been involved as project leader in the NWO-funded project “Contested Privates: The Oppositional Pairing of Religion and Homosexuality in Contemporary Public Discourse in the Netherlands”.

This 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 central (PhD) project will uncover and analyze oppositional pairings of religion and homosexuality in political debates, public counseling and information, and popular culture. Two postdoctoral projects put the research in a comparative perspective by looking into recent history (1946 to 2005) and three other European countries (Sweden, Serbia, and Spain). 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.

Research team

This NWO-funded project is a collaboration of the Amsterdam Center for the Study of Lived Religion (VU Amsterdam) and the Chair of Religion and Gender, Faculty of Humanities, Utrecht University. Fellow researchers include:

Prof. Ruard Ganzevoort, project leader and Professor in Practical Theology at VU Amsterdam
Dr. Mariecke van den Berg, postdoctoral research fellow at the Amsterdam Center for the Study of Lived Religion, VU Amsterdam
Dr. David Bos, postdoctoral research fellow at the Amsterdam Center for the Study of Lived Religion, VU Amsterdam
Marco Derks MPhil, PhD candidate at the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Utrecht University

See the project website or the full project description in pdf for more information.

Publications related to this project

Korte, A.J.A.C.M., van den Berg, M. & van den Bogert, K. eds. [2018]. Religion, Gender and Body Politics. Special issue of Religion and Gender 7 (forthcoming).

Korte, A.J.A.C.M, van Bruinessen, M. & Leezenberg, M. eds. [2018]. Gestures: Religion Qua Performance. New York: Fordham University Press (submitted).

Derks, M., Ganzevoort, R.R. & Korte, A.J.A.C.M., eds. 2017. Nuptial Symbolics beyond the Law: The Construction of Religion and Sexuality in Debates on the Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage. Special issue of Theology & Sexuality 23 (1).

Korte, A.J.A.C.M., Berlis, A. & Biezeveld, K. eds. 2017. Everyday Life and the Sacred: Re/configuring Gender Studies in Religion. Studies in Theology and Religion, vol. 23. Leiden: Brill.

Korte, A.J.A.C.M. 2017. Embodied Faith as Bone of Contention: Introduction to ‘Bodies and Rituals’. In: B. Becking, A.J.A.C.M. Korte & L. van Liere (Eds.), Contesting Religious Identities. Numen Book Series: Studies in the History of Religions, vol. 156. Leiden: Brill. 6 pp.

van den Berg, C.A.M., Bos, D.J., Derks, M., Ganzevoort, R.R., Jovanovic, M., Korte, A.J.A.C.M. & Sremac, S. (2014). Religion, homosexuality, and contested social orders in the Netherlands, the Western Balkans, and Sweden. In G. Ganiel, H. Winkel & C. Monnot (Eds.), Religion in Times of Crisis (pp. 116-134). Leiden: Brill.