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CADS student Simay Çetin wins FSW Master’s Thesis Prize 2021

Simay Çetin won the FSW Master’s Thesis Prize 2021 with her thesis “Interpreting Culture through Embodied Practice: An anthropological study of sexuality among Dutch Women with Turkish Migrant backgrounds”. She was supervised by Prof. Peter Pels. According to the jury is Simay’s thesis not only an important contribution to the field of Cultural Anthropology, but also to qualitative social sciences in general. ‘In Simay Çetins thesis we are fortunate to experience, what leaving the laboratory and doing field research can accomplish when executed with a mixture of grace, insight and determination.’

Simay Çetin’s research is about sexuality among Dutch women with Turkish migrant backgrounds. Initially, she wanted to understand how having a bicultural background could affect attitudes towards sexuality, but she ended up unpacking the term culture as part of her research project to contest static understandings of it. Çetin: ‘Oftentimes culture is treated as a fixed determinant, but there's agency in how we interpret culture ourselves, which was a running theme throughout my thesis.’

Arts-based approach

For her thesis, Çetin ended up interviewing ten women with a migration background, with different degrees of religiosity and sexual orientation. She used an arts-based approach and incorporated colors and timeline drawings into her research to create room for different forms of expression. Çetin: ‘I really wanted to demonstrate the multiplicity of experiences surrounding sexuality and how people engage with and interpret different cultures in the process of understanding their own sexual histories.’

'Anthropological research methods can offer insights into feelings and emotions in ways other methodologies cannot.'

Fluent and logical narrative structure

The jury mentioned that they were at first slightly puzzled by the qualitative approach (at least those with a quantitative background) only to become enchanted by the fluent and logical narrative structure of the thesis, in which Simay Çetin shaped her thoughts about her research and her main research question. As such the reader becomes a fellow traveler guided by Simay Çetin on her journey. Winning the prize was a very proud moment for Çetin. ‘Especially because qualitative research methods don't always get the recognition they deserve in the field of social sciences. Anthropological research methods can be very evocative and I think they offer insights into feelings and emotions in ways other methodologies cannot. I was happy to see that the jury recognized that.’

Watch the ceremony

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Jury members

The jury consisted of Sanne de Vet (PhD candidate Education and Child Studies), Rick van Well (PhD candidate Political Science), Tomás Dodds Rojas (PhD candidate Cultural Anthropology), Laura Hoenig (PhD candidate Psychology), Rose Bieszczad (PhD candidate Centre for Science and Technology Studies) and Kees Verduin (chairman, Instructor Methodology and Statistics).

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