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Exploring Diversity investigates the manifold ways gender, race, class, citizenship, religion, and sexuality are made and unmade in everyday life, including the ways in which differences and similarities among people, communities, and other living things are created, contested, celebrated or distrusted.
Exploring Diversity

Our focus is on the quotidian processes of belonging and exclusion, and their lasting effects on subjectivities, institutions, and environments. At the heart of our multimodal explorations lie the politics of this diversity and how people pursue their desires and ambitions within or despite these politics. Our group investigates the aesthetics of these world making projects, their pasts, presents and futures.

Re-imagine diversity

Diversity is a contested and ambiguous term, used simultaneously by emancipatory struggles, and the conservative projects that would domesticate and depoliticize them. It has also been an integral part of anthropological research and theory from its earliest days, motivating the inquiries and concepts that both created and dismantled evolutionism, supported and criticized colonialism, or reinstituted and disassembled gender inequality. We build from these latter, critical histories, and seek to recuperate and re-imagine diversity for an anthropology that attends to the pressing matters of our day.

Diverse research methods

With empirically grounded ideas of diversity that frame a broad range of social ecologies, we also seek to incorporate diverse ways of living and being into our anthropologically informed research practice. By diversifying our methodological engagements exploring filmmaking and other sensory media, we seek to critically examine and creatively evoke social and political life-worlds.

The research of the group is anchored in a tradition of Socio-Cultural Anthropology; members are committed to the production of critical ethnographies in which the nitty gritty detail of everyday life comes to the fore and in which the dominant frames, processes, and networks of social, political, economic, cultural, and environmental life are critically interrogated, including our own institutions. Through these critical ethnographies of ideas, practices and things we rethink our theoretical repertoires and forge new ones.  The group produces and shares our knowledge of the world in multi-modal ways.

Our projects

  • Marriage, Migration and Sexuality: African Migrants in Interracial Same-sex Partnerships

    The project "Marriage, Migration and Sexuality: African Migrants in Interracial Same-sex Partnerships (MARMIGSEX)" examines the impact of same-sex marriage on the lives of LGBTI individuals in countries where homosexuality is illegal. Specifically, it focuses on same-sex marriage migration from sub-Saharan Africa (Kenya, Ghana) to countries in the Global North (USA, Netherlands). The project takes an interdisciplinary approach and challenges conventional views on marriage migration by: 

    1. Exploring the international mobility of Africans through same-sex marriage, addressing the mobility options and paths of cross-border same-sex couples.

    2. Emphasizing the perspective of origin countries to understand how same-sex marriage migration contributes to social mobility and respect for African men and women in Africa.

    3. Investigating the process of racialization of African migrants' sexuality and how racialized sexuality becomes a resource of exchange value for African individuals in interracial same-sex partnerships.

    In summary, MARMIGSEX offers a unique perspective on the intersection of marriage, migration, and sexuality in an interconnected world, focusing on the experiences of African migrants in same-sex partnerships.

    Project period

    August 2021 - July 2024


    Marie Curie Global Postdoctoral Fellowship

  • Traveling Sex Education

    Sex education programs from the Netherlands have been widely adopted in various countries across the Global South, making them a successful Dutch export. In 2019, the Netherlands invested 439 million euros to provide sexual health and rights information to 7.5 million youths worldwide. However, anthropologists have revealed that models of sexuality and health are not universally applicable, and cultural factors influence how these programs are received.

    This multi-sited ethnographic project examines how Dutch sex education programs are adapted for new contexts, how they interact with existing knowledge and educational practices, and how they contribute to the emergence of new sexual identities and practices. The project follows the journey of these programs from their development in the Netherlands to their implementation in Uganda and Bangladesh, using innovative qualitative research methods.

    By considering the role of knowledge from the Global South and drawing on gender and sexuality studies and actor-network theory, the project bridges decoloniality in cultural anthropology with research on sexual health and rights. Its goal is to provide a deeper empirical understanding of how sexual knowledge is produced, politicized, and disseminated in a globalized world, as well as how contemporary transnational sex education practices shape our understanding and experiences of sexuality.

    Project period

    Sept 2022 - Aug 2026


    This project is funded by the NWO Talent Programme Veni SSH

    Dr. W.J.P. (Willemijn) Krebbekx

    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

    Exploring Diversity

  • Re/Presenting Europe: Popular Representations of Diversity and Belonging
  • Health-AI

    This research project focuses on a multi-sited ethnography of a significant development in global health systems: the integration of big data and AI into national health governance.

    As health data becomes increasingly valuable, concerns about the ethics of algorithms in healthcare are growing. Previous research has primarily examined AI design and institutional frameworks from legal, technocratic, and philosophical perspectives, overlooking the socio-cultural context in which big data and AI operate, especially in organizations where humans collaborate with AI.

    The project aims to address this gap by pursuing four key objectives:

    • Empirical Analysis: Investigate critical moments when data analysts either adhere to or deviate from AI recommendations, with profound implications for national health policies and individual lives.
    • Cross-National Study: Conduct research in six different countries with diverse governmental frameworks and organizational contexts to compare findings and develop a theory on the contextual and organizational factors influencing ethical AI.
    • Innovative Anthropological Methods: Utilize innovative anthropological techniques for future-scenarioing, contributing to the development and refinement of future-oriented research within the discipline.
    • Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Connect anthropological insights with AI developers, partner with health decision-makers, and collaborate with policy institutions to analyze and promote fair AI in healthcare.

    Overall, the project seeks to shed light on how ethical considerations intersect with the integration of AI and big data in healthcare, with a focus on the human-AI collaboration within various cultural and organizational contexts.

    Project period

    June 2023 - May 2028


    ERC Starting Grant 

    Dr. R.S. (Roanne) van Voorst

    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

    Exploring Diversity

  • Rhythms of Love: Enduring Romantic Relationships at Midlife in Contemporary Western Europe

    This project aims to explore how people in midlife (age 35-60) maintain long-term romantic relationships during life transitions. It seeks to understand the complexities of enduring love in the face of societal challenges like work stress, parenting, and societal pressures. The project will develop the concept of "rhythms of love" to analyze the temporal aspects of midlife love across three domains: partnership, parenthood, and other significant relationships. It will focus on diversity factors such as gender, socioeconomic status, race, and religion to avoid treating midlife love as a one-size-fits-all concept.

    The research will be conducted in the Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden using various methods, including ethnographic research, informal conversations, love-life histories, emotion diaries, and photographic essays. The project will culminate in academic publications, a conference, newspaper features, podcasts, and blog posts for the public, and undergraduate research involvement, aiming to advance theories of contemporary changes in intimacy. A social science advisory board and a knowledge utilization committee will provide guidance throughout the project.

    Project period

    Starting per Feb 2024 - Jan 2029


    NWO-Talentprogramme | Vidi - Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH)

    Dr. A. (Rahil) Roodsaz

    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

    Exploring Diversity

Programme group leader

Prof. R. (Rachel) Spronk

Programme Group Leader

Our staff