Vanessa Vroon-Najem is an anthropologist, specialized in the field of conversion to Islam in the Netherlands. She obtained a Ph.D. on this subject in 2014, and continued her research at the University of Amsterdam. Together with Prof. Dr. Annelies Moors, she currently focuses on how converts to Islam in the Netherlands find a partner and conclude their marriage(s), as well as on debates about (‘halal’) dating, partner choice, and (Islamic) marriages, and the political context in which these debates take place. With visual anthropologist Wendy van Wilgenburg she made a documentary and an exhibition about her research titled Marrying Before Allah – Personal Stories of Converts (2017).
BOOKS, EDITED VOLUMES, SPECIAL ISSUES, and FILMS
Vroon-Najem, Vanessa and Wendy van den Wilgenburg, 2017, Trouwen voor Allah. Persoonlijke verhalen van bekeerlingen. Documentary, 55 min.
ARTICLES IN ACADEMIC JOURNALS and EDITED VOLUMES
Moors, Annelies and Vanessa Vroon-Najem, 2019. ‘Converts, Marriage, and the Dutch Nation-state: Contestations about Muslim Women’s Well-being’, in Tillikainen, Marja, Mulki Al-Sharmani and Sanna Mustasaari (eds.), Wellbeing of Transnational Muslim Families: Marriage, Law and Gender. London: Routledge. Chapter available.
Vroon-Najem, Vanessa, 2019. ‘Muslim Converts in the Netherlands and the Quest for a “Culture-Free” Islam’, Archives de sciences sociales des religions 2019/2, 186: 33-51. Pre-final version.
Moors, Annelies, Martijn de Koning and Vanessa Vroon-Najem, 2018. ‘Secular Rule and Islamic Ethics. Engaging with Muslim-Only Marriages in the Netherlands’, Sociology of Islam, 6, 3: 274-296. Pre-final version.
Vroon-Najem, Vanessa and Annelies Moors. Navigating marrying ‘Islamically’ as a convert to Islam in the Netherlands, International ERC Muslim Marriages Workshop ‘The Multiple Materialities of Muslim Marriages’. University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, 13-14 June 2019.
Vroon-Najem, Vanessa and Annelies Moors. The multiple meanings of making hijra, Workshop on ‘Hijra’. University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, 11 June 2019.
Vroon-Najem, Vanessa. Keynote lecture for Expert Meeting ‘Conversion and Narrative’. Research group ‘Beyond “Religion vs Emancipation”: Gender and Sexuality in Women’s Conversions to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in Contemporary Western Europe’. University of Utrecht, Netherlands, 10 April 2019.
Vroon-Najem, Vanessa. Making hijra/coming back: Existential (im)mobility of women converts to Islam from the Netherlands, ACMES Research Convention ‘Multiple Encounters: Europe in the Middle East/the Middle East in Europe’, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, 17 December 2018.
Vroon-Najem, Vanessa and Annelies Moors. Paper presentation Doing Hijra/Coming Back: Transnational Mobility Among Converts to Islam in the Netherlands and screening video portrait from the exhibition Marrying Before Allah – Personal Stories of Converts, Conference ‘Leaving Europe, Alternative Routes of Out/Upward Mobility’. KU Leuven, Belgium, 13-14 September 2018.
Vroon-Najem, Vanessa and Annelies Moors. Screening documentary Marrying Before Allah – Personal Stories of Converts. Final seminar of the multidisciplinary research project ‘Transnational Muslim Marriages: Wellbeing, Law, and Gender’. University of Helsinki, Finland, 7 September 2018.
Vroon-Najem, Vanessa, Wendy van Wilgenburg and Annelies Moors. Public Displays of Intimate Choices: Filming Conversations about Finding a Partner and Getting Married with Converts to Islam in the Netherlands & screening two video-portraits from the exhibition Marrying Before Allah – Personal Stories of Converts. Conference ‘Islamic Visualities and (In)Visualities: Reimagining Public Citizenship?’. Leiden University, Netherlands, 13 December 2017.
Vroon-Najem, Vanessa. Presentation Hoofddoeken en Mannenjurken & preview video fragments from exhibition/documentary Marrying Before Allah – Personal Stories of Converts, Symposium ‘New Fashion Narratives’. Amsterdam Museum, the Netherlands, 1 September 2017.
Vroon-Najem, Vanessa. Presentation Conversion to Islam: Marriage and mobility & screening video portrait from visual project Marrying Before Allah – Personal Stories of Converts, LOVA Conference ‘Ethnographies of Gender & Mobility’. Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 7 July 2017.
Vroon-Najem, Vanessa, Annelies Moors and Martijn de Koning. Concluding a Muslim Marriage in the Netherlands. Controversy, Criminalisation and Contestations, Conference ‘Unregistered Muslim Marriages’. De Montfort University, Leicester, UK, 24-25 April 2017.
Vroon-Najem, Vanessa and Annelies Moors. Converts, marriage, and the Dutch nation-state: Contestations about gendered well-being, Workshop ‘Wellbeing of Transnational Muslim Families: Marriage, Law and Gender’, Academic of Finland and CIMEL. SOAS, London, UK, 29 November 2016.
Vroon-Najem, Vanessa. Pious Sociality and Ethical Communality in the Context of Conversion to Islam, Conference ‘Investigating conversions to Islam: Which approaches in social sciences?’. Sciences Po, Paris, France, 15-16 February 2016.
Vroon-Najem, Vanessa. Conversion to Islam: What does marriage have to do with it?, ACMES Research Convention ‘Marriage controversies: Public Debates and Lived Experiences’. Amsterdam, Netherlands, 28 January 2015.
Exhibition and Documentary ‘Marrying Before Allah – Personal Stories of Converts’
by Vanessa Vroon-Najem, and Wendy van Wilgenburg, 2017
(in collaboration with Imagine IC and AFK)
30 April 2019. Presentation Moslim worden, moslim zijn – van Verborgen Vrouwen tot Trouwen voor Allah. Amsterdam Museum, Netherlands.
15-16 March 2019. Screening at Different Worlds? Ethnography, Religion and Traveling Critique Between Europe and the MENA for attendants and general public, followed by a discussion. Dutch-Flemish Institute in Cairo (NVIC), Egypt.
26 November 2018. Screening and reflection by discussant & discussion with the public. International conference Sexual and Gendered Moralities, under the auspices of the International Association for the study of Religion and Gender (IARG), Ghent, Belgium.
25 November 2018. Private screening for Muslim women’s group Tawheed with discussion afterwards, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
September 2018. Contribution to exhibition Dream Weddings. Museum for European Cultures, Berlin, Germany.
7 September 2018. Screening at the final seminar of the multidisciplinary research project Transnational Muslim Marriages: Wellbeing, Law, and Gender discussants from the University of Helsinki and discussion with attendants. University of Helsinki, Finland.
(documentary has been made part of the course Islamic family law in Europe and Navigating transnational Muslim family lives at the University of Helsinki, students watched the documentary and wrote reflection papers as assignment).
16-20 July 2018. Presentation and screening of documentary. World Congress of Middle Eastern Studies (WOCMES), Sevilla, Spain.
28 June 2018. Screening excerpts from exhibition and documentary in context of Human Rights Dialogue, with discussion with Amnesty volunteers/members & general public. Amnesty International Headquarters, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
29 March 2018. Screening of documentary during Anthro Screening Room, with reflection from discussant and Q&A with attendants. University of Amsterdam, Netherlands.
12-13 March 2018. Screening of documentary at MUSMAR Work-in-progress Meeting. University of Amsterdam, Netherlands.
28 January 2018. Single bekeerling ontdekt halal datingcircuit. Article in Dagblad Zaanstreek.
21 January 2018. Screening in cooperation with the anti-discrimination agency Zaanstreek, with panel of contributors and Q&A with the public. Filmtheather de Fabriek, Zaandam, Netherlands.
18 January 2018. Presentation and screening of documentary. AmsterdamMuseum@Work, Netherlands.
3 January 2018. Screening at Annual mother-daughter event of Muslim women organization ‘Zusters voor Zusters’, with panel with a mother and daughter featuring in the documentary and Q&A with attending mothers and daughters. Amsterdam, Netherlands.
December 2017. Screening at New Narratives Program, followed by Q&A. Amsterdam Museum, Netherlands.
16 November 2017. Premiere documentary Trouwen voor Allah – persoonlijke verhalen van bekeerlingen (Marrying Before Allah – Personal Stories of Converts) with panel of contributors to the documentary and Q&A with the public. Public Library Amsterdam (OBA), Netherlands. Information.
14 November 2017. Bekeerde moslims in videotentoonstelling aan het woord over relaties. Article in Het Parool.
9 November 2017. Opening exhibition Trouwen voor Allah – persoonlijke verhalen van bekeerlingen. Public Library Amsterdam (OBA), Netherlands.
Exhibition on display for the general public at: OBA Bijlmerplein (09 November 2017 – 09 January 2018), OBA Javaplein (10 January – 01 March 2018). OBA Slotermeer (02 March – 30 April 2018), OBA Banne (01 May – 30 June 2018).
7 November 2017. Trouwen voor Allah. Persoonlijke verhalen van bekeerlingen. Article on the website of University of Amsterdam.
4 November 2017. Vroon-Najem, Vanessa and Wendy van Wilgenburg. Sneak Preview Documentary Trouwen voor Allah – persoonlijke verhalen van bekeerlingen (Marrying Before Allah – Personal Stories of Converts) with discussion with general public. Amsterdam Museum Night 2017, Netherlands.
30 October 2017. Trouwen voor Allah. Persoonlijke verhalen van bekeerlingen. Article about the opening of documentary and exhibition on OBA Amsterdam.
10 October 2017. Participatory Meeting with local Public #2 Trouwen voor Allah. Imagine IC, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
24 January 2017. Participatory Meeting with local Public #1 Moslim worden – moslim zijn in Amsterdam Zuidoost. Imagine IC, Amsterdam, Netherlands.