Yvon van der Pijl is Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Utrecht University. Connecting anthropology, cultural studies, and collaborative ethnography, her work explores cross-cultural meanings of death, dying, and disposal across scales. She is particularly interested in how end-of-life issues, on the one hand, and pre- and post-mortem care arrangements and ritual practices on the other, are generative of change and various forms of belonging. She has conducted extensive research in Suriname and the Netherlands. Another line of research relates to issues of non/sovereignty, equaliberty, postcolonialism, and politics of belonging in the Dutch Caribbean. Anthropologizing together with others in and outside academia is what she loves most. [Profile photo by www.fotograafmarjolein.nl]
Interests & expertise
- Death studies; mortuary rituals and funerary practices; bereavement and commemoration; ritual creativity; death care industry.
- Aging and end-of-life care; medical anthropology; biopolitics.
- Non/sovereignty and belonging; Caribbean studies.
- Collaborative ethnography and research ethics.
- The Netherlands, the Dutch Caribbean, and Suriname.
Currently, Yvon focuses on both pre- and post-mortem care practices and ideals in the Netherlands. She is fascinated by new arrangements and rituals that emerge under the pretext of liberal choice and as celebrations of life, whereas aging, morbidity, and death are simultaneously viewed as medical-technological failures rather than as inevitable human (spiritual) trajectories. Her research critically explores the messy cycle of life and death that carries elements of death denial, death revival, and death avoidance at the same time.
Since 2014 Yvon has been involved in the establishment of the first Dutch multicultural funeral home in Amsterdam Southeast by funeral organization Yarden, which officially opened its doors in the spring of 2020. In 2019-2020 she was member of a special committee of the National Health Council of the Netherlands to advice the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations on the admissibility of new ways of disposing of the dead. Yvon participates in DONE, the Netherlands Death Research Network (see https://www.totzover.nl/done/) and is also active as a teacher within Après la Vie Academy that provides training as funeral director or funeral attendant (see https://www.apreslavie.nl).
Between 2014 and 2019 she was as co-applicant part of the NWO-funded research project “Imagining the Nation in the Classroom: A Study of the Politics of Belonging and Nationness on Sint Maarten & Sint Eustatius.” The project resulted, among others, in the exhibition “Identities: Contemporary Caribbean Perspectives” with the Wereldmuseum Rotterdam, and the co-edited volume with Francio Guadeloupe, Equaliberty in the Dutch Caribbean: Non/Sovereign Ways of Being, forthcoming with Rutgers University Press (Critical Caribbean Studies).
Since her PhD research in Suriname, Yvon has held various positions within Stichting Instituut ter Bevordering van de Surinamistiek IBS (Dutch Association for the Study of Suriname and the Caribbean). She was review editor (1998-2003) and member of the editorial board (1998-2016) of Oso: Tijdschrift voor Surinamistiek en het Caraïbisch gebied (Oso: Journal for the Study of Suriname and the Caribbean). Her PhD thesis LEVENDE-DODEN: Afrikaans-Surinaamse percepties, praktijken rituelen rondom dood en rouw (LIVING-DEAD: African-Surinamese Perceptions, Practices and Rituals surrounding Death and Mourning) from 2008 was published within the IBS series Bronnen voor de Studie van Suriname (Series for the Study of Suriname) and resulted in a second edition in 2010 with Rozenberg Publishers. A third edition is in preparation.
Yvon has served as board member (2013-2018) and vice-president (2015-2018) of the Dutch Anthropological Association (Antropologen Beroepsvereniging ABv) and is, of course, still a committed member.
- Death studies.
- Care ethics and aesthetics.
- Ritual studies.
- Anthropological theory.
- Ethnographic methods and engaged anthropology.
- Ethnicity, race and nationalism.
- Caribbean studies.
- Sustainable citizenship.
Marvel at the wonders of life, have doubts, and critically examine how knowledge is created. Do not stop asking questions and have fun learning, reading, and writing together. Drop in and if the door is not open: just send an email :)