Julie McBrien is Associate Professor of Anthropology, director of the AISSR research program group 'Exploring Diversity: Critical Ethnographies of Belonging and Exclusion' and Vice-director of the Amsterdam Research Center for Gender and Sexuality. Her research focuses on the politics of belonging. She examines the intimate encounters of daily life and asks how they are tied up with global forces and national politics. She attends especially to the politics surrounding gender, religion, and culture.
McBrien is Senior Researcher in the ERC funded program Building a Better Tomorrow: Development Knowledge and Practice in Central Asia and Beyond, 1970-2017. In this interdisciplinary project, she investigates questions of nationalism, international development and the politics of the future by interrogating late-Soviet and post-Soviet era interventions into martial practices in Central Asia.
This research built directly on her work in two previous projects. McBrien was co-coordinator and senior researcher in the ERC funded program Problematizing Muslim Marriages: Ambiguities and Contestations in which she studied contestations around marriage conclusion in Kyrgyzstan and how they were woven into larger debates and practices of gender, age, and national belonging. She also investigated the ‘Dreams and disillusions of young women in Kyrgyzstan' during a post-doctoral research position funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) at the AISSR and ISIM from 2008-2009. This project examined topics like marriage and kinship (bride abduction), migration, and labour.
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 were 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 Religion in Kyrgyzstan was published in 2017 with the University 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).
Shakrbanu Bagheri, 2021 - present.
Davlatbegim Mamadshoeva, 2021 - present
Dilys Amoabeng, 2021 - present
Iris Kolman, 2018 - present
Rahma Bavelaar, 2014 - present
Ibtisam Sadegh, 2014 - present
Annerienk Fioole, completed 2021
Dina Zbeidy, completed 2020