Gender, relationships, and sexuality. An empirical study on the lived experiences of young Catholic women

Start - End 
2017 - 2023 (completed)
Department of Languages and Cultures
Research Focus 
Research Period 
Research Region 
Research Methodology 



This PhD project is situated in the study of gender and religion, and takes the lives of (young) Roman Catholic women as a starting point in order to examine how religiosity is constructed and performed. I investigate how these women navigate between religious traditions and prescriptions, and secular society. Furthermore, I seek to explore how religious beliefs and teachings inform their interpretations, experiences, and practices pertaining to love, romantic relationships, and sexuality. The research adopts an anthropological framework by conducting ethnographic research among self-identified Catholic women who are active in the Church, and deploys a lived religion perspective. I draw upon feminist theory, gender studies, and religious studies in order to theorize the lived realities of these Catholic women. In so doing, this project aims to unravel the manifold creative and at times contradictory ways in which these women manifest agency. Moreover, it offers feminist potential to formulate a critique on hegemonic (secular) discourses about romantic relationships and sexuality.



Phd Student(s)


Annemie Dillen

KU Leuven

Nella van den Brandt

Universiteit Utrecht