Julie McBrien is Assistant Professor of Anthropology (tenured) and co-director of the AISSR research program group 'Globalizing Culture and the Quest for Belonging'. She is currently co-coordinator and Senior Researcher in the ERC funded program Problematizing Muslim Marriages.
Her work in this global comparative project examines contestations around how marriage is concluded in Kyrgyzstan and the way this ties into debates and practices of gender, age, and national belonging. Her research on marriage builds on her previous investigations into the lives of young Kyrgyzstani women. The project 'Dreams and disillusions of young women in Kyrgyzstan' began during her a post-doctoral research position funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) at the ASSR and ISIM from 2008-2009. It examined topics like marriage and kinship ( bride abduction), migration, and labour. In both projects she has been keenly interested in the way her interlocuters build their futures.
McBrien has published on ethnic violence and conflict. She also continues to research and publish on issues of religion , politics , and secularism the work she began during her doctoral research at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology (Research Cluster: Religion and Civil Society). Research and writing for this project was funded by the Max Planck Society and the Social Science Research Council, New York. She received her PhD from the Martin Luther University , Halle-Wittenberg. Her book From Belonging to Belief: Modern secularisms and the construction of Relgion in Kyrgyzstan is in press with the Univeristy of Pittsburgh Press.
Having followed a group of Kyrgyz women for the last ten years, McBrien explores their shifting dreams of a fulfilling, adult life and charts how their attempted enactments of these fantasies have been blocked, altered or fulfilled. Love, marriage, and bride-kidnapping; work and children; and labor migration are the key themes in this exploration of young women's lives.
McBrien's research, titled 'Dreams and Disillusions of Young Muslim Women', was begun as a post-doctoral project at the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World (ISIM) and continued from January 1, 2009 at the ASSR (now AISSR). The project was funded by a Rubicon Grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research ( NWO ).
McBrien's first research project explored the politicization of Islam in southern Kyrgyzstan following the collapse of the USSR and its state-enforced atheism. Her research was particularly concerned with the effects of Soviet and post-Soviet modernization projects on conceptions of religion, politics, and ethno-national identity, and the way these impacted on the return of religion to the public sphere and the (re)construction of social life in a period of post-socialist decline.
The research project was funded by the Max Planck Society and the Social Science Research Council, New York. It was part of the research project on Religion and Civil Society at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthroplogy, Halle, Germany (2003 - 2006).