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Prof. dr. S.A.E. (Sarah) Bracke

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
Programme group: Political Sociology: Power, Place and Difference
Photographer: Amélie Hanan Bracke

Visiting address
  • Nieuwe Achtergracht 166
  • Room number: B 6.20
Postal address
  • Postbus 15508
    1001 NA Amsterdam
Contact details
  • Profile

    Sarah Bracke is Professor of Sociology of Gender and Sexuality at the University of Amsterdam. She co-directs the Amsterdam Research Centre of Gender and Sexuality (ARC-GS) since September 2019. Before joining the Sociology Department at the UvA in 2017, she worked as a senior researcher at the Center of Expertise on Gender, Diversity, and Intersectionality (RHEA) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels and as Associate Research Professor of Sociology at Ghent University.

    She was trained in Sociology of Religion and Culture as well as Philosophy at the KU Leuven, and holds a Ph.D. in Women’s Studies from Utrecht University. She previously held appointments as Marie-Curie Fellow at the Department of Anthropology, UC Santa Cruz, as Visiting Fellow in the Program in Critical Theory, UC Berkeley, as Research Associate and Visiting Professor in the Women’s Studies in Religion Program, Harvard Divinity School, and as Visiting Scholar at the Center for European Studies, Harvard University. She is the recipient of a Fulbright Award, an Andrew Mellon fellowship, a FWO project grant by the Research Foundation Flanders, and a NWO Vici and Aspasia grant by the Dutch Research Council.

    Bracke’s main fields of research include gender, religion (Islam and Christianity), the secular and secular governmentality, and multiculturalism in Europe, with a focus on questions of subjectivity and agency. She is the PI of the NWO-funded VICI grant EnGendering Europe's 'Muslim Question' (2018-2024). She has also investigated neoliberal forms of subjectification (such as the ethos of ‘resilience’) as well as the current anti-gender ideology movements against gender as an analytical category. She has produced the documentary Pink Camouflage (2009) on the use of the rhetoric of LGBT rights within current civilizational geo-politics. She has served as an editor of the Tijdschift for Genderstudies (the Dutch journal of Gender Studies) and Religion and Gender, and is an executive editor of Ethnography.

  • Teaching


    • Intersectionalities: Class, Race, Gender, Sexuality (Sociology, BSc programme, mandatory course)
    • Gender, Sexuality, and Culture I (Sociology, MSc programme, Gender and Sexuality track, core course)


    • Intersectionalities: Class, Race, Gender, Sexuality (Sociology, BSc programme, mandatory course)
    • Gender, Sexuality, and Culture (Sociology, MSc programme, Gender and Sexuality track, core course)


    • Intersectionalities: Class, Race, Gender, Sexuality (Sociology, BSc programme, mandatory course)
    • Gender, Sexuality, and Culture (Sociology, MSc programme, Gender and Sexuality track, core course)
    • Dutiful Citizenship (Sociology, MSc programme, elective course)


    • Intersectionalities: Class, Race, Gender, Sexuality (Sociology, BSc programme, mandatory course)
    • Introduction to Gender and Sexuality (Interdisciplinary Minor Gender and Sexuality, core course)
    • Intersections of Culture, Sexuality & Gender (Sociology, MSc programme, Gender and Sexuality track, core course)
    • Dutiful Citizenship (Sociology, MSc programme, elective course)


    • Sexual Variations (Sociology, BSc programme, elective course)
    • Dutiful Citizenship (Sociology, MSc programme, elective course)
  • Public lectures


  • Research

    EnGendering Europe's Muslim Question (NWO Vici project, 2018-2024)

    This project investigates the role of gender and sexuality in the problematization of Islam and Muslims in Europe today. Two deliberate theoretical and methodological strategies are used to this achieve this objective.

    First, by shifting the analytical and methodological focus from ‘the Muslim other’ to the ‘European self’. This shift enables three subsequent theoretical moves: (1) the analysis of the problematization of Islam and Muslims in Western Europe, in which problematization is a research strategy taken from Foucault and focused on the study of how and why something becomes a social problem; (2) the carefully mapping out of the resonances and differences with Europe’s Jewish Question, which represents a paradigmatic instance of the racialization of a religious minority in Europe; and (3) further thinking and accounting for the conceptual entanglement of race and religion in Western Europe.

    Second, by centering the analysis in gender and sexuality. This is warranted by the salience of questions of gender and sexuality in Europe’s Muslim Question (e.g. debates on women’s rights and homosexuality) as well as the potential of gender analyses to generate new knowledge. This strategy enables the project to unpack how gender and sexuality function as privileged terrains upon which Europe’s Muslim Question comes into being, as well as to consider the effects of the Muslim Question upon pre-existing regimes of gender and sexuality.

    The project combines elaborate conceptual work with an ‘ethnography of a problematization’ focused on studying public debates and more precisely key texts in the realms of policy-making and public debate, as well as interviews with key figures. The empirical inquiry focuses on three topics: gender segregation, violence against women, and toleration of homosexuality. The empirical study is focused on the Netherlands, with contrasting case-studies from France, Germany, and Belgium.

    Principle investigator: Prof. dr. Sarah Bracke

    Postdoctoral researchers: Dr. Luis Manuel Hernández Aguilar & Dr. Anna Esther Younes

    Doctoral researchers: Sherilyn Deen, Lou Mousset & Berna Toprak

    Research assistence: Pilar d'Alò

    Research intern: Roxane Kroon

    Marriage Migration: Integration, identity, and Empowerment among Muslim Women in Belgium (FWO project, 2015-2019)

    When marriage migrants leave their familiar environment they face the double challenge of building partner and family relationships and integrating into a new society. Regardless if this new place is a better one, it still involves struggles and difficulties. Especially for female marriage migrants, family and kinship ground the social order and form a crucial network of support. Hence the role of the immediate new family, kinship ties, and local community cannot be underestimated.

    This ethnographic research project aims to uncover the agency of Muslim female marriage migrants and female partners in Belgium, attending in particular to how they use their cultural and religious capital to negotiate and navigate gender relations, and as such counter some of the challenges of marriage, migration and integration. These specific constraints and challenges require a different way of looking at and valorizing agency because much of what these women do, besides physical moving, is foregrounded by imagining, strategizing, and negotiating.

    The project draws on postcolonial, feminist and gender theories that valorize individual experiences and struggles by approaching gender in relation to other identity markers such as ethnicity, class, religion, and sexual identity, as a principal structuring force in shaping the life experience.

    Supervisors: Prof. dr. Chia Longman (UGent), Prof. dr. Nadia Fadil (KULeuven), Prof. dr. Sarah Bracke

    Doctoral researcher: Amal Miri

    Identity Constructions at the Intersection of Mental Health, Religion, Ethnicity, and Gender in Belgium (FWO project, 2013-2018)

    Muslims with a migrant background are largely underrepresented in established mental healthcare services in Western-Europe. At the same time, they also seem particularly at risk for mental health problems. This conundrum has been identified, conceptualized, and approached from a number of perspectives. Yet not been many studies have provided an in-depth and dynamic understanding of what happens in the interactions between mental healthcare professionals and diasporic Muslims.

    This project explores questions of underrepresentation and interactions both in theoretical and empirical terms. Following a Foucaultian approach that recognizes that mental health institutions shape the subjects that pass through them, the project zooms in on processes of subjectification that diasporic Muslims go through in established mental healthcare services. This focus on subjectification is further elaborated with critical insights from the study of disability, religion, ethnicity, migration, and gender. In empirical terms, the research is located in the city of Ghent, Belgium, and based on in-depth interviews with mental health care providers in various kinds of health care services and diasporic Muslims with mental health issues with different trajectories through, and experiences of, established mental health services.

    Supervisors: Prof. dr. Sarah Bracke; Prof. dr. Griet Roets (UGent); Prof. dr. P. Bracke (UGent)

    Doctoral researcher: Dr. Elise Rondelez (PhD defense on 27/04/2018)

    Postdoctoral researcher: Dr. Caroline Vandekinderen

  • Publications


    • Bracke, S., & Hernandez Aguilar, L. M. (2022). Thinking Europe's "Muslim Question": On Trojan Horses and the Problematization of Muslims. Critical Research on Religion, 10(2), 200-220.
    • Vandekinderen, C., Rondelez, E., Bracke, S., Bracke, P., & Roets, G. (2022). How to make sense of cultural difference in mental health care: analyzing biographies of diasporic Muslim women with mental health problems. Social Theory & Health, 20(4).



    • Bracke, S. (2019). Par-delà la pilarisation: Gouvernementalité séculière et décolonisation aux Pays-Bas. In L. Bruyère, A-S. Crosetti, J. Faniel, & C. Sägesser (Eds.), Pilarisé un jour, pilarisé toujours? : Approches multidisciplinaires du clivage philosophique dans la Belgique contemporaine CRISP.


    • Bracke, S., & Fadil, N. (2018). "Ist das Kopftuch unterdrückend oder emanzipatorisch?": Feldnotizen aus der Multikulturalismusdebatte. In S. Amir-Moazami (Ed.), Der inspizierte Muslim: Zur Politisierung der Islamforschung in Europa (pp. 247-268). (Globaler lokaler Islam). Transcript Verlag., [details]
    • Bracke, S., Dupont, W., & Paternotte, D. (2018). "Personne n'est prophète en son pays": Le militantisme catholique anti-genre en Belgique. In R. Kuhar, & D. Paternotte (Eds.), Campagnes anti-genre en Europe: Des mobilisations contre l'égalité (pp. 79-97). Presses universitaires de Lyon. [details]
    • Rondelez, E., Bracke, S., Roets, G., Vandekinderen, C., & Bracke, P. (2018). Revisiting Goffman: frames of mental health in the interactions of mental healthcare professionals with diasporic Muslims. Social Theory & Health, 16(4), 396-413. [details]



    • Bracke, S. (2016). Bouncing Back. Vulnerability in Times of Resilience. In J. Butler, Z. Gambetti, & L. Sabsay (Eds.), Vulnerability in Resistance. Towards a Feminist Theory of Resistance and Agency (pp. 52-75). Duke University Press.
    • Bracke, S. (2016). Is the Subaltern Resilient? Notes on Agency and Neoliberal Subjects. Cultural Studies, 30(5), 839-855.
    • Bracke, S., & Paternotte, D. (2016). Unpacking the Sin of Gender. Religion and Gender, 6(2), 143-154. [details]
    • Bracke, S., & Paternotte, D. (Eds.) (2016). Habemus Gender! The Catholic Church and 'Gender Ideology'. Religion and Gender, 6(2), 143-338. [details]
    • Rondelez, E., Bracke, S., Roets, G., & Bracke, P. (2016). Racism, Migration, and Mental Health. Theoretical Reflections from Belgium. Subjectivity, 9(3), 313-332.






    • Ceelen, I., & Bracke, S. (2022). Van sociologische verbeelding naar ‘connected sociologies’: Sarah Bracke over gender als bron van theoretische vernieuwing. Tijdschrift voor Sociologie, 3.


    • Bonjour, S., & Bracke, S. (2020). Europe and the Myth of the Racialized Sexual Predator: Gendered and Sexualized Patters of Prejudice. EuropeNoW.



    • Bracke, S. (2017). The Power of the Word. An Ode and Confession to Fatema Mernissi. In N. Mokhtari (Ed.), Fatema's Dreams of Transgress: Defaulting the Boundaries of Islamic Feminism (pp. 80-83). (UIR Publications Series). Rabat: Université Internationale de Rabat.

    Prize / grant

    Media appearance

    Journal editor

    Talk / presentation

    • Bracke, S. (speaker) & Hernandez Aguilar, L. (speaker) (7-11-2019). "They love death as we love life", Race and Religion, Uppsala.
    • Bracke, S. (invited speaker) (30-8-2019). Het (ont)worden van neoliberale subjecten: een kritiek van veerkracht, De zichtbare hand, Utrecht.
    • Bracke, S. (speaker) (20-6-2019). On how “the secular” racializes, 26th International Conference of European Studies, Madrid, Madrid.
    • Bracke, S. (invited speaker) (4-4-2019). ‘Le savoir est fait pour trancher.' Over lichamen, instituties en kennispolitiek, De dekoloniale universiteit, Brussel.
    • Bracke, S. (invited speaker) (21-1-2019). Van de vraag naar de vraagsteller, Coming in - Coming out #1: Queer moslims, Amsterdam.
    • Bracke, S. (invited speaker) (31-10-2018). When "free speech" turns against academic freedom, Symptom of a System in Crisis, Amsterdam.
    • Bracke, S. (invited speaker) (22-10-2018). Entanglements of Race, Religion, and Secularism, Entanglements of Race, Religion, and Secularism, Amsterdam.
    • Bracke, S. (invited speaker) (25-4-2018). The blind spot of an old dream of symmetry. Gender, Diversity, and Neoliberalism, 5th Anniversary of DiGeSt (Journal of Diversity and Gender Studies), Gent.
    • Bracke, S. (keynote speaker) (26-2-2018). Beyond pillarization: Philosophical markers in contemporary Belgian and Dutch societies, Pilarisé un jour, pilarisé toujours?, Brussels.
    • Bracke, S. (invited speaker) (26-10-2017). Subjects of debate. Women's Emancipation, Piety and the Public Debate on Islam, Troubles féministes dans l'islam et le judaisme, Brussels.
    • Bracke, S. (invited speaker) (28-9-2017). The Spectre of the Arab Muslim Man, VUB.
    • Bracke, S. (keynote speaker) (14-7-2017). Religion and Race: A Story of Conceptual Entanglement, On the Edge? Centres and Margins in the Sociology of Religion, Leeds.
    • Bracke, S. (invited speaker) (29-6-2017). Secular Nostalgia, Konfiguration des Säkularen, Berlin.
    • Bracke, S. (invited speaker) (23-6-2017). Response to "Whither Postcolonial Europe? New Racisms, New Solidarities", by Paul Silverstein, Critique of Religion, Amsterdam.
    • Bracke, S. (invited speaker) (19-5-2017). Response to "Neoliberalism, Intersectionality and Feminism: The Governmentalizing of Dissenting Knowledges in Research and Teaching", by Sirma Bilge, Intersectionality: Theory, Concepts, Methods, Brussels.


    • De Keere, K. (organiser) & Bracke, S. A. E. (organiser) (23-11-2017). Getting Respect in The Netherlands: between redistribution and respect, Amsterdam. University of Amsterdam/ AISSR and Erasmus Prize Foundation (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library or the Pure staff of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure to edit your publications. Log in to Personal Page Publication Selection tool to manage the visibility of your publications on this list.
  • Ancillary activities
    • No ancillary activities