Who cares? Ethnographic perspectives on life’s endings and the (bio)politics of belonging

Ethnographic perspectives on life’s endings and the (bio)politics of belonging

Yvon van der Pijl is researcher in the anthropology of death, dying, and disposal. Connecting anthropology, cultural studies, and collaborative ethnography, her research focuses on cross-cultural meanings of life’s endings and care practices across scales. She is particularly interested in how end-of-life issues and associated pre- and post-mortem care arrangements are generative of change and various forms of belonging. Her field sites include Suriname and the Netherlands. Another line of research is related to issues of sovereignty/non-sovereignty, postcoloniality, and politics of belonging in the Dutch Caribbean. Research is conducted independently or in collaboration with research partners from other faculties and universities as well as with the private sector.
Currently she is involved in the following research projects:

The birth of a multicultural funeral home

Collaborative research on innovations in the Dutch death care landscape, in particular the development of a multicultural funeral home in Amsterdam Southeast by Yarden Funeral Corporation.

Casualties of care: ageing, end-of-life & wellbeing

Ethnographic research on ageing, end-of-life decisions, and care in the transnational context of Suriname and the Netherlands. This project involves an exploration of the transnational connections between care, contemporary technologies, policy and media hubs, and the ways they:

  1. affect ageing and current end-of-life issues and decisions, including the experience of loss and grief; and
  2. create new forms of (biological) citizenship, i.e. the right to have access to support that recognize (in)capabilities of the body.

Imagining the nation in the classroom: a study of the politics of belonging and nationness on Sint Maarten & Sint Eustatius

A NWO-funded research that studies and compares the making and remaking of hegemonic ideologies of belonging and nationness in the Dutch Caribbean, and particularly in primary schools on the islands of Sint Maarten & Sint Eustatius. 1 Postdoc, 2 PhD projects in collaboration with the departments of Anthropology and Educational Sciences of the University of Amsterdam.

Human trafficking imagined

Ongoing research collaboration with Willem Pompe Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology. Focus is on the link between law enforcement conditions in EU-member states, trafficking victimization, mobility, and citizenship rights.

Key publications

Van der Pijl, Y. 2016. “Death in the Family Revisited: Ritual Expression and Controversy in a Creole Transnational Mortuary Sphere.” Ethnography 17(2): 147-167.

Van der Pijl, Y. 2017. “The Birth of a Multicultural Funeral Home.” Death Studies 41(1): 42-50.

Van der Pijl, Y. 2018. “Some Limits of Caring at a Distance: Aging and Transnational Care Arrangements between Suriname and the Netherlands.” In Care Across Distance: Ethnographic Explorations of Aging and Migration, edited by Azra Hromadžic and Monika Palmberger, 137-169. New York & Oxford: Berghahn Books.