Dr Sonja Van Wichelen

Senior Lecturer of Sociology


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Biographical details

Sonja van Wichelen received her PhD in Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam (2007) and held positions in the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University (2007-2009), the Pembroke Center at Brown University (2009-2010), and the Institute for Culture and Society at the University of Western Sydney (2010-2014) before joining Sydney University in 2015. Her general research interests include globalization and human rights, science and technology studies, feminist and postcolonial theory, sociology of law, religion and the body politic. Sonja is the convener of the Biopolitics of Science Research Network.

Research interests

Van Wichelen’s research projects broadly engage with the body, law, and science in the age of globalization and the effects that changes in these areas have on our understanding of citizenship. Previous projects examined these themes and included a) the study of public debates on Islam and gender in contemporary Indonesia, b) analyses of multiculturalism and immigration politics in postcolonial Europe (together with Marc de Leeuw), and c) a study of transnational adoption practices that focused on changing Western paradigms of the child-citizen in science, humanitarianism and the market economy.

Teaching and supervision

Past teaching:
Science, Technology and Social Change; Globalization and Culture; Globalization of Reproduction; Science as Culture; Research Methods for Global Research; Religion, Gender and Globalization, Feminist Theory.

Supervision:
In the past Sonja van Wichelen supervised a number of PhD and MA students. She welcomes graduate students interested in globalization and human rights; humanitarianism; science and technology studies; biotechnology and reproduction; sociology of law; postcolonial and feminist theory, religion and the body.

HDR Students

  • Andrew McLachlan (Primary Supervisor);Resilience in Action: Mental health in schools
  • Sohoon Lee (Co-Supervisor);Women between the Laws: Migrant Women, Precarity and Social Reproduction in South Korea
  • Elsa Koleth (Auxiliary Supervisor);Temporary migration and the new politics of belonging in the multicultural settler state
  • Polina Smiragina (Auxiliary Supervisor);The Invisibility of Male Victims of Human Trafficking: Causes and Consequences

Honours Students

  • Zaina Ahmed, starting 2017
  • Elsher Lawson-Boyd, starting 2017
  • Emma Shinozaki-Langridge (Honours, completed 2016);Posthuman subjectivities and embodiment in narcolepsy: The limits of consciousness, relational complexity and bodily agency
  • Natalie Leung (Honours, completed 2016);Transnational Lives, Transnational Identities: The Migratory Experiences of Highly Educated, Skilled Hong Kong Women in Australia

Current projects

Currently, Van Wichelen is working on a new project The Changing Rights to Family Life in Australia: Biomedicine and Legal Governance in Globalization which investigates the impact of globalization and biomedicine on the constitution of family through an ethnographic study of law.

It compares two contrasting and currently contested cases in Australia - transnational surrogacy arrangements and family reunification in immigration - to study the biomedicalization of parenthood, the role of reproduction in border politics, and legal transformations in governing family life.

Awards and honours

2014-2018; Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA), Australian Research Council, “The Changing Rights to Family Life in Australia: Biomedicine and Legal Governance in Globalization.

2014; Research Development Grant from the Philosophy Research Initiative, “New Spirits of Humanitarianism”, University of Western Sydney (with Jessica Whyte)

2014; Research Training Scheme Grant, “New Spirits of Humanitarianism”, University of Western Sydney (with Jessica Whyte)

2012; Humanities Faculty Grant for the international workshop “Place-Making in the Asian Century”, Hong Kong Baptist University (with Yiu-Fai Chow and Jeroen De Kloet)

2011; Internal Research Seed Grant, University of Western Sydney, “Moral Economies of Transnational Adoption: Markets and Children in Comparative Perspective”

2009-2010; Nancy L. Buc Postdoctoral Fellowship, Brown University, “The Cultural Pragmatics of Global Adoption: Markets, Adoptee-Bodies, and Transnational Ethics”

2007-2009; Postdoctoral Fellowship, Center for Cultural Sociology, Yale University

2007; Rubicon Award, Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), “The Politics of Adoption: Social Dimensions of Adoption Practices in Comparative Perspective”

In the media

‘What Chance for International Surrogacy Laws?’, ABC The Drum, 21 October 2014. Available here.

Invited Talks

2016 “Economies of Return: Openess, Knowing, Mobility,”, International Workshop on Gender and Mobility in Asia, University of Melbourne.

2016 “Legitimating Life: Adoption as Postcolonial Technoscience,”, History of Science Research Seminar, University of Sydney.

2014 “Reproduction at the Borders: Biolegalities of Family Life,” Reproductive Biopolitics Workshop, University of Sydney.

2012 “Moral Economies of Child-Bodies: Displacement and Humanitarianism,” Anthropology Research Seminar, Anthropology Department, University of Sydney.

2011 “Moral Economies of Transnational Adoption: Markets and Children in Comparative Perspective,” History of Adoption in Australia Project Meeting, Monash University.

2011 “Disputing the Muslim Body: Religion, Politics and Gender in Indonesia,” Indonesia Study Group, Crawford School of Economics and Government, Australian National University.

2011 “Moral Economies of the Adoptee-Body in Globalization,” Gender and Cultural Studies Seminar Series, Australian National University.

2011 “Moral Economies of the Adoptee-Body in Globalization,” Seminar Series, Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney.

2010 “The ‘Adoptee’ and ‘Immigrant’ as Site and Sign,” keynote speaker, The Body as Site and Sign: A Multidisciplinary Conference on the Body, Science and Technology Studies and the Anthropology Department, Brown University.

2010 “Love and Violence in Global Adoption: Ontological Entanglements,” Seminar Series Working Group on Anthropology and Population, Brown University.

2010 “New Trends in China-US/Europe Adoption,” China Care Brown Program, Brown University, 2010.

2010 “What’s ‘quite-not-right’ with International Adoption,” Sarah Doyle Women’s Center, Brown University.

2009 “Adoptee-bodies and Global Ethics,” Seminar Series, Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women, Brown University.

2009 “The Making of Global Adoption,” Seminar Series, Department of Sociology, Yale University.

2009 “Freedom, Sexual Politics, and the Specter of Civilization: Between Commitment and Complicity”, keynote speaker to public debate on Freedom of Expression, New Museum, New York City, New York.

2008 “Secrets to Happy Polygamy: Shifting Masculinities in Indonesian Public Discourse,” Seminar Series, Council on Southeast Asia Studies, Yale University.

2008 “Toward a Sociology of Public Phenomena,” Seminar Series, Center for Cultural Sociology, Yale University.

2006 “Silence, Absence, Loss: Re-sinicization in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia,” Seminar Series, Netherlands Institute for War Documentation (NIOD), Amsterdam.

2005 “Please Go and Wake Up! Submission, Hirsi Ali, and the ‘War on Terror’ in the Netherlands,” Gender and Feminist Theory Seminar, University of Amsterdam.

2003 “Media, Gender and Democracy in Indonesia,” keynote speaker for the International Conference on Media, Gender, and Democracy, EHWA University, Seoul, South Korea.

All Publications

For a full list of publications please go here.

Selected grants

2018

  • Understanding Identity and Citizenship in the Era of Post-Globalization and New Nationalism; Van Wichelen S, Arif Y; Office of Global Engagement/India Development Fund.
  • SOAR Fellowship - Wichelen van Sonja; Van Wichelen S; DVC Research/SOAR Fellowships.

2017

  • Intercountry adoption of Taiwanese-born children by Australian families: Perspectives of adoptees, adoptive families, birth families and professionals; Wright A, Chen Y, Van Wichelen S, Spencer M; Office of Global Engagement/Partnership Collaboration Awards.
  • Understanding Power, Effecting Change: Theory Across the Curriculum (Open Learning Environment - Undergraduate); Fernandes S, Baines D, Driscoll C, Angosto Ferrandez L, Konings M, Morton A, Van Wichelen S; DVC Education/Small Educational Innovation Grant.

2014

  • The Changing Rights to Family Life in Australia: Biomedicine and Legal Governance in Globalisation; Van Wichelen S; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA).

Selected publications

Download citations: PDF RTF Endnote

Books

  • Van Wichelen, S. (2010). Religion, Politics, and Gender in Indonesia: Disputing the Muslim Body. London: Routledge.

Edited Books

  • Firat, B., De Mul, S., Van Wichelen, S. (2009). Commitment and Complicity in Cultural Theory and Practice. London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Book Chapters

  • Van Wichelen, S., Mahbuba, F. (2018). Muslim Women: Contemporary Debates. In Gabriele Marranci (Eds.), Handbook of Contemporary Islam and Muslim Lives. London: Springer.
  • Van Wichelen, S. (2017). Reproducing the Border: Kinship Legalities in the Bioeconomy. In Vincenzo Pavone, Joanna Goven (Eds.), Bioeconomies: Life, Technology, and Capital in the 21st Century, (pp. 207-225). Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. [More Information]
  • Van Wichelen, S. (2015). Negotiating Polygamy: Islam, Gender, and Feminism in Indonesia. In Huma Ahmed-Ghosh (Eds.), Asian Muslim Women: Globalization and Local Realities, (pp. 225-245). New York: State University of New York Press.
  • de Leeuw, M., Van Wichelen, S. (2014). Doing "Integration" in Europe: Postcolonial Frictions in the Making of Citizenship. In Sandra Ponzanesi (Eds.), Gender, Globalization, and Violence: Postcolonial Conflict Zones, (pp. 145-160). New York: Routledge. [More Information]
  • de Leeuw, M., Van Wichelen, S. (2014). Institutionalizing the Muslim Other: Naar Nederland and the Violence of Culturalism. In Philomena Essed, Isabel Hoving (Eds.), Dutch Racism, (pp. 337-354). Amsterdam: Rodopi.
  • Van Wichelen, S. (2012). The Body and the Veil. In Bryan S. Turner (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Body Studies, (pp. 206-216). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
  • Van Wichelen, S. (2009). Commitment or Commitment-Kitsch? Rethinking the 'Woman Question', Agency, and Feminist Politics. In Begum Ozden Firat, Sarah de Mul, Sonja van Wichelen (Eds.), Commitment and Complicity in Cultural Theory and Practice, (pp. 55-80). London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Van Wichelen, S. (2009). Formations of Public Piety: New Veiling, the Body, and the Citizen-Subject in Contemporary Indonesia. In Bryan S. Turner and Zheng Yangwen (Eds.), The Body in Asia, (pp. 75-94). Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books.
  • Firat, B., De Mul, S., Van Wichelen, S. (2009). Introduction: Commitment and Complicity. In Begum Ozden Firat, Sarah de Mul, Sonja van Wichelen (Eds.), Commitment and Complicity in Cultural Theory and Practice, (pp. 1-20). London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • de Leeuw, M., Van Wichelen, S. (2008). Transformations of ‘Dutchness’: From Happy Multiculturalism to the Crisis of Dutch Liberalism. In Gerard Delanty, Paul Jones and Ruth Wodak (Eds.), Identity, Belonging, and Migration, (pp. 261-278). Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. [More Information]

Journals

  • Van Wichelen, S. (2017). Book review: Torsten Heinemann, Ilpo Helen, Thomas Lemke, Ursula Naue and Martin G. Weiss (Eds.), Suspect Families: DNA Analysis, Family Reunification and Immigration Policies. The Sociological Review, 65(4), 907-909. [More Information]
  • Van Wichelen, S. (2016). Changing Rights to Family Life: Biolegalities in the Globalization of Reproduction. Socio-Legal Review, 12(1), 26-50.
  • Van Wichelen, S. (2016). Postgenomics and Biolegitimacy: Legitimation Work in Transnational Surrogacy. Australian Feminist Studies, 31(88), 172-186. [More Information]
  • Van Wichelen, S. (2015). Scales of Grievability: On Moving Children and the Geopolitics of Precariousness. Social and Cultural Geography, 16(5), 552-566. [More Information]
  • Leinaweaver, J., Van Wichelen, S. (2015). The geography of transnational adoption: kin and place in globalization. Social and Cultural Geography, 16(5), 499-507. [More Information]
  • Van Wichelen, S. (2014). Medicine as Moral Technology: Somatic Economies and the Making Up of Adoptees. Medical Anthropology: Cross Cultural Studies in Health and Illness, 33(2), 109-127. [More Information]
  • de Leeuw, M., Van Wichelen, S. (2012). Civilizing Migrants: Integration, Culture, and Citizenship. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 15(2), 195-210. [More Information]
  • Van Wichelen, S. (2010). Silence, Absence, Loss: Chineseness in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia. Thamyris/Intersecting: place, sex and race, 20, 237-252.
  • Van Wichelen, S. (2009). Polygamy Talk and the Politics of Feminism: Contestations over Masculinity in a New Muslim Indonesia. Journal of International Women's Studies, 11(1), 173-188.
  • Van Wichelen, S. (2006). Contesting Megawati: The Mediation of Islam and Nation in Times of Political Transition. Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture, 3(2), 41-49.
  • de Leeuw, M., Van Wichelen, S. (2005). 'Please Go Wake Up!': Submission, Hirsi Ali, and the "War on Terror" in the Netherlands. Feminist Media Studies, 5(3), 325-340.

Edited Journals

  • Van Wichelen, S. (2015). At Home in Asia: Place-making, Belonging and Citizenship in the Asian Century. International Journal of Cultural Studies. [More Information]
  • Van Wichelen, S. (2015). The Geography of International Adoption: Kin and Place in Globalization. Social and Cultural Geography, 16(5).

Reference Works

  • Van Wichelen, S., de Leeuw, M. (2016). Netherlands. The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Nationalism. John Wiley & Sons.

2018

  • Van Wichelen, S., Mahbuba, F. (2018). Muslim Women: Contemporary Debates. In Gabriele Marranci (Eds.), Handbook of Contemporary Islam and Muslim Lives. London: Springer.

2017

  • Van Wichelen, S. (2017). Book review: Torsten Heinemann, Ilpo Helen, Thomas Lemke, Ursula Naue and Martin G. Weiss (Eds.), Suspect Families: DNA Analysis, Family Reunification and Immigration Policies. The Sociological Review, 65(4), 907-909. [More Information]
  • Van Wichelen, S. (2017). Reproducing the Border: Kinship Legalities in the Bioeconomy. In Vincenzo Pavone, Joanna Goven (Eds.), Bioeconomies: Life, Technology, and Capital in the 21st Century, (pp. 207-225). Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. [More Information]

2016

  • Van Wichelen, S. (2016). Changing Rights to Family Life: Biolegalities in the Globalization of Reproduction. Socio-Legal Review, 12(1), 26-50.
  • Van Wichelen, S., de Leeuw, M. (2016). Netherlands. The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Nationalism. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Van Wichelen, S. (2016). Postgenomics and Biolegitimacy: Legitimation Work in Transnational Surrogacy. Australian Feminist Studies, 31(88), 172-186. [More Information]

2015

  • Van Wichelen, S. (2015). At Home in Asia: Place-making, Belonging and Citizenship in the Asian Century. International Journal of Cultural Studies. [More Information]
  • Van Wichelen, S. (2015). Negotiating Polygamy: Islam, Gender, and Feminism in Indonesia. In Huma Ahmed-Ghosh (Eds.), Asian Muslim Women: Globalization and Local Realities, (pp. 225-245). New York: State University of New York Press.
  • Van Wichelen, S. (2015). Scales of Grievability: On Moving Children and the Geopolitics of Precariousness. Social and Cultural Geography, 16(5), 552-566. [More Information]
  • Van Wichelen, S. (2015). The Geography of International Adoption: Kin and Place in Globalization. Social and Cultural Geography, 16(5).
  • Leinaweaver, J., Van Wichelen, S. (2015). The geography of transnational adoption: kin and place in globalization. Social and Cultural Geography, 16(5), 499-507. [More Information]

2014

  • de Leeuw, M., Van Wichelen, S. (2014). Doing "Integration" in Europe: Postcolonial Frictions in the Making of Citizenship. In Sandra Ponzanesi (Eds.), Gender, Globalization, and Violence: Postcolonial Conflict Zones, (pp. 145-160). New York: Routledge. [More Information]
  • de Leeuw, M., Van Wichelen, S. (2014). Institutionalizing the Muslim Other: Naar Nederland and the Violence of Culturalism. In Philomena Essed, Isabel Hoving (Eds.), Dutch Racism, (pp. 337-354). Amsterdam: Rodopi.
  • Van Wichelen, S. (2014). Medicine as Moral Technology: Somatic Economies and the Making Up of Adoptees. Medical Anthropology: Cross Cultural Studies in Health and Illness, 33(2), 109-127. [More Information]

2012

  • de Leeuw, M., Van Wichelen, S. (2012). Civilizing Migrants: Integration, Culture, and Citizenship. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 15(2), 195-210. [More Information]
  • Van Wichelen, S. (2012). The Body and the Veil. In Bryan S. Turner (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Body Studies, (pp. 206-216). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

2010

  • Van Wichelen, S. (2010). Religion, Politics, and Gender in Indonesia: Disputing the Muslim Body. London: Routledge.
  • Van Wichelen, S. (2010). Silence, Absence, Loss: Chineseness in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia. Thamyris/Intersecting: place, sex and race, 20, 237-252.

2009

  • Firat, B., De Mul, S., Van Wichelen, S. (2009). Commitment and Complicity in Cultural Theory and Practice. London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Van Wichelen, S. (2009). Commitment or Commitment-Kitsch? Rethinking the 'Woman Question', Agency, and Feminist Politics. In Begum Ozden Firat, Sarah de Mul, Sonja van Wichelen (Eds.), Commitment and Complicity in Cultural Theory and Practice, (pp. 55-80). London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Van Wichelen, S. (2009). Formations of Public Piety: New Veiling, the Body, and the Citizen-Subject in Contemporary Indonesia. In Bryan S. Turner and Zheng Yangwen (Eds.), The Body in Asia, (pp. 75-94). Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books.
  • Firat, B., De Mul, S., Van Wichelen, S. (2009). Introduction: Commitment and Complicity. In Begum Ozden Firat, Sarah de Mul, Sonja van Wichelen (Eds.), Commitment and Complicity in Cultural Theory and Practice, (pp. 1-20). London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Van Wichelen, S. (2009). Polygamy Talk and the Politics of Feminism: Contestations over Masculinity in a New Muslim Indonesia. Journal of International Women's Studies, 11(1), 173-188.

2008

  • de Leeuw, M., Van Wichelen, S. (2008). Transformations of ‘Dutchness’: From Happy Multiculturalism to the Crisis of Dutch Liberalism. In Gerard Delanty, Paul Jones and Ruth Wodak (Eds.), Identity, Belonging, and Migration, (pp. 261-278). Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. [More Information]

2006

  • Van Wichelen, S. (2006). Contesting Megawati: The Mediation of Islam and Nation in Times of Political Transition. Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture, 3(2), 41-49.

2005

  • de Leeuw, M., Van Wichelen, S. (2005). 'Please Go Wake Up!': Submission, Hirsi Ali, and the "War on Terror" in the Netherlands. Feminist Media Studies, 5(3), 325-340.

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