Julie McBrien

Julie McBrien is a tenured Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam, and a Senior Research and co-coordinator of the ERC project Problematizing Muslim Marriages at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research. Her book, From Belonging to Belief: modern secularisms and the construction of religion in Kyrgyzstan is forthcoming with Pittsburgh University Press. She has also published her work in journals like JRAI, Critique of Anthropology, Anthropology Today, and Material Religion.

She works on issues of religion, secularism, Muslim identity, post-Socialism, and politics as well as on young women’s lives focusing especially on work, marriage and family life. Her research has been funded by grants from the European Research Council, the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), the Max Planck Gesellschaft, and the Social Science Research Council, New York. She received her PhD from the Martin Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg in conjunction with the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology.




McBrien, Julie, 2017, From Belonging to Belief: Modern secularisms and the construction of religion in Kyrgyzstan. Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh University Press.


McBrien, Julie. “Regulating, Recognizing, and Religionizing Nike in Kyrgyzstan.” Hawwa 1 (2020): 55-75. Advance online publication. https://brill.com/view/journals/haww/aop/article-10.1163-15692086-12341386/article-10.1163-15692086-12341386.xml?language=en

McBrien, Julie, under review. ‘On Mothers and Daughters-in-law Structure: Case Study in Context’ in David Montgomery (ed.), Central Asia in Context: A Thematic Introduction to the Region. Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh University Press.

McBrien, Julie, under review, ‘On Shame: Uiat in Kyrgyzstan and the troubled history of honor and shame in anthropology’. American Ethnologist.

Sadegh, Ibtisam and Julie McBrien, 2018. ‘Conference Report: Religious Marriages in the Mediterranean’, ZR&I – Zeitschrift für Recht und Islam/Journal of Law & Islam 10, pp. S139–S148. Open access.



McBrien, Julie. What’s wrong with bride abduction? Divergent anxieties in Kyrgyzstan, Musmar Conference ‘Politics and/of Muslim Marriages’. University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2-3 July 2019.

McBrien, Julie. The Economic Logics of Anti-Bride Abduction Campaigns in Kyrgyzstan, Biennial Meeting European Society for Central Asian Studies. University of Exeter, UK, 27-29 June 2019.

McBrien, Julie. Nike and the problematization of marriage in Kyrgyzstan, INSRUM (International Network for Scholars Researching Unregistered Marriages) 2nd International Conference ‘Muslim Marriages: Plurality of Norms and Practices in Muslim-Majority Contexts’. University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, 11-12 April 2019.

McBrien, Julie. Modern Secularisms and the Construction of Religion in Kyrgyzstan, Amsterdam Centre for Middle Eastern Studies. University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, 15 November 2018.

McBrien, Julie. From Belonging to Belief: Modern secularisms and the construction of religion in Kyrgyzstan. Book Talk. Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany, 28 June 2018.

McBrien, Julie. From Belonging to Belief: Modern secularisms and the construction of religion in Kyrgyzstan. Book Talk. University of Naples “L’Orientale”, Italy, 5 June 2018.

McBrien, Julie. Marriage Regulation and the Politics of Religion. Workshop “Marriages Quandaries in Central Asia Part II”. University of Naples “L’Orientale”, Naples, Italy, 5-6 June 2018.

McBrien, Julie. From Belonging to Belief: Living Islam in Post-Soviet Central Asia, Spui 25. Amsterdam, Netherlands, 14 May 2018.

McBrien, Julie and Annelies Moors. Difficult Research, Problematizing Muslim Marriages: Ambiguities and Contestations, Department of Anthropology. University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, 12 October 2017.

McBrien, Julie. The Tricky Matter of Defining Religion, Central Asia Program. Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, Elliot School of International Affairs, The George Washington University, Washington, D.C., USA, 27 April 2017.

McBrien, Julie. When Definitions Matter – Marriage Regulation and the Protection of Young Women in Kyrgyzstan. Workshop ‘Marriage Quandaries in Central Asia’, Department of Anthropology. University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, 12 April 2017.

McBrien, Julie. On Choice in Bride Abduction, Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies Lecture Series. University of Zurich, Switzerland, 21 March 2017.

McBrien, Julie. Bride Abduction and the UN SDG5. Round Table Discussion ‘Gender equality: contested grounds & space for critical voice in/for SDG5’, Conference on Governance by Sustainable Development Goals. University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, 27-29 June 2016.

McBrien, Julie. Materializing Politics through Marriage, Joint seminar Department of Anthropology and Gender Studies Department. European University Saint Petersburg, Saint Petersburg, Russia, 11 May 2016.

McBrien, Julie. Making Sense of Troubled Lives, Program Group ‘Globalizing Culture’. University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, 17 March 2016.

McBrien, Julie. (Im)proper Marriage in Kyrgyzstan, Senior Research Symposium ‘Mixing and Matching: Trends in Muslim Marriages’. University of Malta, 26 February 2016.

McBrien, Julie. Conflicting matters of concern – bride abduction and human rights in Kyrgyzstan, Conference ‘Development and Modernization in the (post)Soviet Periphery’. University of Amsterdam and the Central Asia Program of the George Washington University, Leiden, Netherlands 25-26 September 2015.

McBrien, Julie. Problematic Marriages in Kyrgyzstan. American University of Central Asia Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, 10 September 2015.

McBrien, Julie. Religious Landscapes and Muslim Marriages in Kyrgyzstan. Eurasian National University Astana, Kazakhstan, 1 August 2013.

McBrien, Julie. Dreams and Disillusions of Young Kyrgyz Women, Social Science Research Colloquium. Nazarbayev University, Astana, Kazakhstan1 August 2013.



McBrien, Julie, 2019. Julie McBrien and Catherine Wanner Contemplate Secularism, Belonging, and Belief. Interview for Anthropology News: American Anthropological Association.

McBrien, Julie, 2018. Kyrgyzstan from Belonging to Belief: An interview with Julie McBrien. Voices on Central Asia.

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