Grant for Postdoctoral Fellowship

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has granted me a two-years postdoctoral fellowship in its Rubicon programme for promising early career researchers. I received the fellowship for my project ‘A Saint in Times of AIDS: Religion and Masculinity Politics in Postcolonial Zambia’. I will carry out this project as a postdoctoral research fellow in the Centre for Gender and Religions ResearchDepartment of the Study of Religions at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.

Project summary
A religious men’s organisation in Zambia explicitly promotes Saint Joachim – who is believed to be the father of Mary and the grandfather of Jesus – as ‘the model of every Catholic husband and father’. The organisation can be considered as a response of the Zambian Catholic Church to the social and cultural challenges in Zambia, such as the HIV epidemic. The current project offers an in-depth case study of the background, meaning and effect of this case of religious masculinity politics.
Where men and masculinities in religious settings are often analysed in a conceptual framework of patriarchy, I will develops an alternative frame, employing concepts of agency and performativity (Saba Mahmood; Judith Butler). The question is how the personal and communal discourses about St. Joachim, and the imitative practices through which men perform their alternative masculinity modelled after St. Joachim, produce new religious and gendered identities and constitute male agency.

The aim of the project is twofold:

  • to provide empirical insight in processes of change in masculinity in a postcolonial African context;
  • to contribute to the conceptualisation of the complex intersections of religion, masculinity politics and male agency.

Rubicon programme
The Rubicon programme of NWO is directed at young postdoctoral researchers who are still at the
start of their careers but whose academic strengths give them the potential to become established researchers. The grant enables talented researchers to enhance their career prospects by spending up to two years at a top research institution outside the Netherlands. Proposals are assessed on the basis of the quality of the applicant, the research proposal and the host institution.

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