I study and write about death, dying and bereavement practices to better understand people and the ways in which they make life meaningful. My work focuses on contemporary societies that are characterized by aging populations, increasing environmental concerns, individualism, religious-ethnic plurality and diverse formations of secularism. By studying individual and collective deathstyles in these societies, I seek to more fully understand funerary and bereavement processes, and aim to unpick changing meaning systems and worldviews.
Currently I am an Assistant Professor at the University of Groningen, where I conduct research and teach and mentor students in a wide range of religious studies topics. At Groningen, I am also the director of the Centre for Religion, Health and Wellbeing. I obtained my PhD in Religious Studies at Radboud University (2017), and previously worked as a postdoc at the University of Reading (AHRC/ESRC project). I am an associate to the Centre of Death and Life Studies at the University of Durham, and an associated researcher at the Centre of Thanatology at Radboud University.
My research is interdisciplinary in character, and starts from the premise that every approach to studying a phenomenon is partial. I draw on anthropological, psychological and geographical work and actively collaborate with scholars from these areas to build bridges between (sub) disciplines. I also employ various research methods, such as participant observation, qualitative interviews, focus groups and quantitative survey, and use creative materials in my work to engage with sensitive research topics and to better understand knowledge production.
On the basis of my research I have written several academic books and journal articles. I also find it important to exchange expertise and insights about death and bereavement with non-academics. Therefore I regularly give lectures, talks and media performances, participate in creative (art) projects, and contribute to debates via professional journals, blogs and newspapers. I collaborate with professionals in health-, spiritual- and funeral care, and consult and cooperate with local and national government.