Westerduin MA, M.

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+31 20 59 86229
faculteit religie en theologie ( beliefs & practices )
Maandag en dinsdag of woensdag en op afspraak

Matthea Westerduin currently works as phd candidate at the faculty of theology at the VU University Amsterdam. She studied cultural history, theology and literature at the Utrecht University and graduated Cum Laude from the Research Master History and the Research Master Theology. In the past few years Matthea acquired educational and academic experience as she taught Philosophy of the Humanities (bachelor course) at the Utrecht University and The Writer as Public Intellectual (master course) at the University of Amsterdam. At the Leiden University she made video-interviews with scholars working in different disciplines of the humanities (a.o. Ernst van Alphen, Caroline van Eck, Judith Pollman, Kitty Zijlmans, en Maghiel van Crevel). Since Matthea aims at participating in public as well as academic debates she worked as program officer at Felix Meritis, Centre for Art, Science and Culture in Amsterdam and developed several projects on the verge of science and public debates. Furthermore, she is freelancer at the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant for which she writes interviews, short essays and book reviews. By doing so, Matthea not only seeks to cross disciplinary, but also academic boundaries.

Fields of interest
Intellectual history (19th, 20th, and 21st century) history of theology; public debates; modern literature and film; relation secularity and religion; modern Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and secular thought; representation of religion, the secular, and Jews and Muslims. 

Research project
Critique of religion and the framing of Islam and Judaism in the Netherlands today
Supervisor: Prof. dr. H.Y.M. (Yolande) Jansen. Phd candidates: Anna Blijdenstein and Matthea Westerduin.

Recently, in the Netherlands and other European countries, controversies have arisen concerning Jewish and Muslim religious practices such as ritual slaughter and circumcision. These controversies are usually framed in terms of shifting relations between secular cultures and (orthodox) religion. Some criticize these practices in the name of secular and liberal values, often with reference to the Enlightenment and human or animal rights; others argue that secularist cultural hegemony exists in an uneasy relationship with religious freedom.

A question which has so far remained in the background, is how the framing of these controversies, in terms of the relationship between secular critique of religion and (orthodox) religion, is related to how Jews and Muslims have been historically, and still remain, the objects of cultural stereotyping, radicalization and discrimination. This is a crucial question at a time when anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are issues of concern in Europe. This project therefore analyses the dynamic between critique of religion in the Netherlands and the framing of Jews and Muslims, while also aiming to contribute to public reflection on this dynamic.

In my sub-project I will work with in depth interviews and focus groups consisting of Dutch intellectuals. The current debates about religion and religious practices will be analyzed against the background of 19th century debates about religion and modernity in which Jewish and Muslim intellectuals participated extensively.

Ancillary activities

De Volkskrant - Critic Amsterdam, 01 januari 2014
Felix Meritis - Advisor Amsterdam, 01 januari 2014
Last changes Ancillary activities: Amsterdam 27 januari 2017