Sarah Bracke

Sarah Bracke

Visiting Assistant Professor of Women's Studies and Sociology of Religion 2013–14
WSRP Research Associate 2013–14

Home institution

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

Research project

Female Piety in Contemporary Catholic Renewal and the Concept of Agency

This sociological investigation is based on field work with a Catholic Renewal movement in France during the Great Jubilee of 2000. Concerned with questions of power and subjectivity at the intersection of religion and gender, it explores processes of self-fashioning as well as the capacity to act (agency), both in relation to the divine and sexual difference.

Watch Sarah Bracke discuss her work on women and contemporary Catholic renewal movements:

WSRP lecture

Female Piety in Contemporary Catholic Renewal and the Concept of Agency


HDS 2112: Women, Religion, and the 'Turn to Agency' (Spring 2014)


Sarah Bracke is Associate Professor of Sociology of Religion and Culture at Ghent University. Her work is situated at the intersection of questions of gender, sexuality, religion, and culture, and draws on critical theory, notably feminist and postcolonial theory. She holds a PhD in Women's Studies from Utrecht University, and her doctoral work investigated the question of female religious agency in the context of Christian and Islamic movements in Europe. Her postdoctoral project, which was granted a Marie Curie Fellowship (at Utrecht University and the University of California, Santa Cruz), explored questions of the (post)secular and secular governmentality. In 2011, she was a Visiting Fellow at the Critical Theory Program at the University of California, Berkeley, where she embarked on a new project entitled 'Secular Nostalgia,' and she is currently affiliated with two projects at the Center for the Study of Social Difference at Columbia University.

During her time as a Research Associate with the Women's Studies in Religion Program, she will prepare a book manuscript entitled "Doing and Undoing Sexual Difference: Female Piety in Contemporary Catholic Renewal and the Notion of Agency." This book project is concerned with questions of subjectivity at the intersection of religion and gender. The project engages with the recent 'turn to agency' within social scientific research on women and religion, and more specifically with the seminal contribution by Saba Mahmood (2005) in this respect. This research explores how a relationship to the divine becomes incarnated in ethical and corporeal practices (processes of self-fashioning) and shapes the capacity to act (agency), and does so in relation to questions of gender and sexual difference. Bracke is the recipient of a Fulbright Award (Fulbright Belgium Research Scholar 2013-14) for this project.

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