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Launched in September 2010, the Amsterdam Research Centre for Gender and Sexuality (ARC-GS) promoted gender and sexuality studies within the social sciences at the University of Amsterdam, in the Netherlands and beyond. ARC-GS awarded its final thesis prize for the academic year 2022. While the prize has been discontinued, we honor the past winners here:
  • 2022 ARC-GS Thesis Prize

    Silva Harmsen was awarded the 2022 MSc Thesis Prize for the thesis, “What’s identity got to do with it? The social life of sexual identity” (Research Master Social Sciences, University of Amsterdam). The jury found this thesis on how queer people in the Netherlands’ self-understanding has shifted over time and as part of political, social, and linguistic changes to be beautifully written, theoretically courageous, and analytically sophisticated. This thesis weaves together complex queer and sexuality theory with oral histories to convincingly illustrate how non-heterosexual identity categories have evolved and been contested, narrated, and claimed through different generations as a historical and cultural process. Harmsen engages in a nuanced and compassionate way with their interlocutors, in a way that shows the complexities of gender and sexual expressions over time.

    The jury nominated two other excellent theses as finalists for this prize. Lara Fizaine’s thesis, “Pink Networks: An exploratory study of queer older adults’ use of queer joy, practical kinship, and care relationships to do relatedness in the Dutch context,” (Research Master Social Sciences, University of Amsterdam) illustrates the urgency of scholarly attention to queer aging as part of life course and beautifully captures the unique care and queer kinship networks that older adults construct and navigate. Thijmen Oosterbaan’s thesis, “Bending the Linguistic Binary: A Comparison of How Italian-Speaking and Dutch-Speaking Nonbinary People Navigate Gendered Language,” (Sociology Department, University of Amsterdam) powerfully explores the relationships between society, gender, and language through a well-developed, multi-sited theoretical lens and intimately delves into the complexities of negotiating everyday practices of gender identities.

  • 2021 ARC-GS Thesis Prize

    Prisca Pfammatter was awarded the 2021 MSc Thesis Prize for the thesis, “Beyond Farming Women. Queering Gender, Work, and Family Farms” (Rural Sociology Department, Wageningen University). The jury found this thesis on the (un)doing of gender at queer farms in Switzerland to be beautifully written, courageous in style and ability to be vulnerable, with a very sophisticated use of theory. The thesis elegantly weaves together a narrative blending theory, methodological reflection, diary entries, observation, and interview data and in so doing, offers a convincing illustration of the multiple and often subtle ways in which gender is undone (or not-done) on the farms included in the study, while done with a vengeance outside these spaces. 

    An honorable mention was awarded to Fatma Patricia Escalante Pliego, for the thesis “Resistencia. Influence of Mexican Indigenous Women in the Fight Against Structural and Symbolic Violence” (Sociology, master track Gender and Sexuality, University of Amsterdam).
    The jury considered this to be a well-written thesis on a highly relevant topic of indigenous women’s experiences and violence, with rich empirical data which was collected in difficult circumstances. The theses carefully considers questions of positionality and power relations within knowledge production thus not only investigates decolonisation struggles but contributes to the process of decolonizing knowledge.

    Read Fatma’s thesis here

  • 2020 ARC-GS Thesis Prize

    Fabian Holle was awarded the 2020 ARC-GS MSc Thesis Prize for the thesis “Queer creations between a rock and a hard place. Art practicing LGBTQ+ forced migrants unsettling Dutch hegemony”. Holle’s thesis turns away from the worn trope of forced migrant as victim, placing instead an emphasis on the way in which the art practicing LGBTQ+ forced migrants actively challenge assumptions and blind spots about migrants like themselves. The Jury was particularly impressed with the focus on creative productions as a space for agentive action.

  • 2019 ARC-GS Thesis Prize

    Anna Wallis's thesis 'Niet gay genoeg?’ deals with the construction of borders around ‘credible’ queerness in Dutch LGBTI asylum interview preparations’ explores the construction of narratives of queerness in LGBTI asylum interview preparation in the Netherlands and how symbolic borders – of who is gay enough – are created in this context. The Jury thought this was a crucial topic, in particular in a national context that so often prides itself on the sexual progressiveness and ‘tolerance’ of its people and policies.

  • 2018 ARC-GS Thesis Prize

    Loes Oudenhuijsen's thesis “‘You Have to Know How to Play, Otherwise They Will Catch You’. Young Women and the Navigation of Same-Sex Intimacies in Contemporary Urban Senegal"  explores how same-sex intimacies are navigated by young women in Dakar, Senegal, drawing on six months of ethnographic fieldwork. The jury was impressed by the thesis and unanimously argued that this is a blueprint for MA theses. The thesis challenges mainstream thinking about LGBTQI politics and coming out by focusing on a context that is understudied in sexuality studies. It shows how Africans themselves understand their sexual identities from the bottom up instead of the top down.

  • 2017 ARC-GS Thesis Prize

    Caitlin Schmid's thesis “Who Cares for Equality? A comparative analysis of gender equality and intergenerational care policy in European welfare states” is a thorough study of how Gender Equality Indices lack the important dimension of elderly care, and she proposes policy recommendations on how to improve them. The bridge she erects between childcare and elderly-care is timely and warranted. The development of the indices, the applied methodology, and the reflexivity are very impressive for a Master thesis.

  • 2016 ARC-GS Thesis Prize

    Dragana Stojmenovska's thesis “Management Gender Composition and the Gender Pay Gap: Evidence from British Panel Data” deals with a well-known but still hotly discussed topic: the gender pay gap. Even after many efforts regarding gender equality on the labour market, the average hourly wage for women in Europe is 16% lower than it is for men. This means that women in principle work nearly two months for free every year across Europe. The reasons for the gender pay gap are manifold and complex. In her thesis, Dragana addresses the problem of the gender pay gap from a very interesting and underexplored angle, namely, in how far the gender composition of an organization at the management level affects the gender pay disparities within the organization.

  • 2015 ARC-GS Thesis Prize

    Stephanie Stelko's thesis “Doing Vaginismus: Activity and Self-Interpretation of Clenching Bodies” deals with a relatively unknown, and perhaps even silenced, topic. Vaginismus, sometimes called vaginism, is a female sexual pain disorder. Affected women themselves often describe it as clenching. It is a physical condition due to vaginal tightness caused by contractions of the pelvic floor muscles, affecting a woman's ability to engage in any form of vaginal penetration.

  • 2014 ARC-GS Thesis Prize

    Mirjam Fischer's thesis “Does tolerance matter? A study of same-sex unions and well-being in 9 European countries” contains an excellent and innovative quantitative method for assessing the well-being of same-sex unions. The aim of the thesis is to find out whether there is a gap in well-being between same-sex and mixed-sex couples and how this is related to levels of tolerance in different European countries. The committee was impressed by the systematic and well-structured analysis of the methodology proposed.

  • 2013 ARC-GS Thesis Prize

    The 2013 ARC-GS Thesis Prize was awarded to Zoe Neilson for her thesis "‘She represents all that is wretched about Britain’ Folk devils and moral panic in contemporary Britain”.  The committee feels that the author has produced a thesis on a topic that has hardly received any scholarly attention, if at all, so far. The research therefore had to start afresh. The conceptual framework chosen, the concepts of folk devils and moral panics, is aptly and creatively used. The analysis is coherent and consistent. The methodology consisted of discourse analysis of a large number of sources.

  • 2012 ARC-GS Thesis Prize

    Karen Vuijsters’ thesis When Will I be Loved? Regulated Sexualities amongst Intellectually Disable People is an excellent study on the regulation of the desires and sexualities of intellectually disabled persons. It is coherent and well-written and combines a thorough literature review with rich ethnographic descriptions based on primary fieldwork. The dilemmas arising from this research are well indicated, and the suggestions for further research are pertinent.

  • 2011 ARC-GS Thesis Prize

    Neyir Zerey's thesis Officers of the Juridical System or Guardians of Morality Norms. Examination of Police Brutality towards Trans Sex Workers in Istanbul deals with police brutality towards Trans Sex Workers in Istanbul. The study draws on interviews with police officers and on participant observation in their patrol cars at night. Not only did Neyir Zerey gain access to the field, she also collected police officers’ narratives on the motivation of their actions. Her solid and innovative ethnographic work generated new insights on the relation between sex workers in Turkey and state actors.