The Amsterdam Research Centre for Gender and Sexuality (ARC-GS) promotes gender and sexuality studies within the social sciences at the University of Amsterdam, in the Netherlands and beyond.
Aside from facilitating research synergies, its educational mission involves encouraging and valorizing advanced social science students working in the field. Since 2011 ARC-GS awards a prize to the best master’s thesis focused on gender and/or sexuality studies in the social scientific disciplines in the Netherlands. Applications are accepted from all universities in the Netherlands and can be submitted from 15 September until 14 November 2021.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.