Dr. Marlene Schäfers

Assistant Professor
Cultural Anthropology

Marlene Schäfers is Assistant Professor in Cultural Anthropology at Utrecht University. She obtained her PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2015. Before coming to Utrecht, she held a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship at Ghent University (2016-2019), an FWO Senior Postdoctoral Fellowship at the same institution (2019-2020), and a British Academy Newton International Fellowship at the University of Cambridge (2020-2021). In 2021, she held the Evans-Pritchard Lectureship at All Souls' College, Oxford.


Dr Schäfers' research focuses on the impact of state violence on intimate and gendered lives, the politics of death and the afterlife, and the intersections of affect and politics. She specializes in the anthropology of the Kurdish regions and modern Turkey. Her first monograph, Voices that Matter: Kurdish Women at the Limits of Representation in Contemporary Turkey (University of Chicago Press, 2022), investigates Kurdish women’s struggle for voice in contemporary Turkey. By reading actual voices alongside voice as a potent metaphor for agency and empowerment, it advances a fine-grained analysis of how liberal politics incite minoritarian subjects to raise their voices and how the promises of liberation and recognition this move entails are routinely disappointed. Dr Schäfers' second research project focuses on the politics of afterlives in the Middle East. Through an ethnographic investigation into how the dead acquire powerful afterlives as martyrs, saints, and heroes, the project conceptualizes afterlives as a central site for the exercise, nourishment, and sustenance of sovereignty.


Research and teaching interests

Political anthropology; anthropology of the state; sovereignty; violence and pain; memory and commemoration; voice and performance; ethnicity and nationalism; revolutionary movements; death and the afterlife; affects and emotions; gender and sexuality; Turkey; Kurdistan; the Middle East