Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Lehrstuhl für Wissenschaftsgeschichte

Dr. Rahil Roodsaz

Dr. Rahil Roodsaz
Assistant Professor
R.Roodsaz (at)
Web Adresse

Rahil Roodsaz is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. In 2018, she obtained the Dutch NWO-Veni grant for a postdoctoral project (2019-2022) entitled, The Paradox of Romantic Love: Negotiating Autonomy and Commitment in Intimate Relationships in the Netherlands. This project investigates the seemingly contradictory values of autonomy and commitment to untangle the paradox of romantic love in the Dutch context. She received her PhD in 2015 at the Institute for Gender Studies of the Radboud University Nijmegen. Her PhD research resulted in a monograph titled, Sexual Self-Fashioning Iranian Dutch Narratives of Sexuality and Identity, to be published by Berghahn Books in December 2022. She has been a visiting scholar at the Department of Feminist Studies of the University of California Santa Barbara (Oct-Dec 2012), the Department of Social Anthropology at Cambridge University (Dec 2019), and the Department of Gender Studies at Örebro University (Mar-Apr 2022).


Research interests

  • Love and intimacy
  • Sexuality
  • Critical feminist theory
  • (Late)modernity
  • Sex education
  • Migration
  • Iranian diaspora


Research projects

The Paradox of romantic love        

In this project, I investigate the seemingly contradictory values of autonomy and commitment to untangle the paradox of romantic love in the Dutch context. Pursuing the ideal of romantic love is perceived as an essential component of personal wellbeing and happiness in contemporary western societies. Yet this ideal is challenged by a relatively high rate of divorce and separation, singlehood and loneliness. The paradoxical values of autonomy and commitment underlying late-modern romantic love clash in the quest for establishing and maintaining intimate relationships and achieving happiness as promoted by a widespread therapeutic discourse. This ethnographic project asks how autonomy and commitment are negotiated by individuals within long-term monogamous relationships or non-monogamous arrangements and by singles looking for a partner in Dutch society. An intersectional perspective, focusing on gender, class, race and religiosity is used to provide a diversity-sensitive approach to the constructions of love and intimacy.


Breaking the shame: Towards improving adolescent SRHR education in Bangladesh

In my previous position as a postdoctoral researcher at the Radboud University Nijmegen, I was the content coordinator of an international and interdisciplinary NWO-WOTRO project on experiences of ‘shame’ among different actors involved in adolescent sexuality education in Bangladesh. Combining postcolonial, queer and post-secular perspectives, I studied the epistemological underpinnings of international aid development focusing on collaborations between Dutch and Bangladeshi organisations on the promotion of Comprehensive Sexuality Education in this country.


Sexual self-fashioning among the Iranian Dutch

During my PhD project (2009-2014) about Iranian Dutch immigrants, I investigated the role of sexuality in processes of collective identification in this diasporic context. The concept of ‘sexual self-fashioning’ was developed to analyse the positioning of the self in relation to modernity based on ideas and ideals about sexuality and gender.


A critique of ‘proper gayness’

Creating space for difference was the central theme in another collaborative project on ‘proper gayness’ in which a critical account of the dominant ‘coming out’ imperative was provided by engaging with counter-narratives from civil society actors supporting sexual and ethnic diversity in the Netherlands and Flanders.


Emotion work in Dutch households and women’s rights in the Gulf countries

During my position as a researcher at Atria, Institute for Gender Equality and Women’s History, I led several projects to affect policy. In collaboration with The Netherlands Institute for Social Research, a qualitative study was conducted, using the concept of ‘emotion work’ to analyse women’s emotional investments in managing the household and underlying Dutch dominant perceptions of appropriate mother- and womanhood. Moreover, I coordinated a comprehensive and international research project on women’s rights in the Gulf countries for The European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality.


Life stories of refugees in the Netherlands

Between 2014 and 2016, I participated as a fieldworker in an oral history project on life stories of refugees in the Netherlands for the European Commission, coordinated by The Foundation for the Promotion of Social Participation in Amsterdam. This project resulted in databases in various Dutch archives and cultural activities by and about refugees for a large audience.



Selected publications



Roodsaz, Rahil. (2022). Sexual Self-Fashioning among the Iranian Dutch. Oxford, New York: Berghahn Books (forthcoming).


Edited collection

Roodsaz, Rahil & De Graeve, Katrien. (eds) (2021). Intieme Revoluties. Praktijken van verzet in seks, liefde en zorg. Amsterdam: Boom.


Journal articles

Roodsaz, Rahil. (2021). Queering Potentials: Negotiations of Gender, Parenthood and Family in Polyamorous Relationships in the Netherlands. Sexualities, August, 2021:

Roodsaz, Rahil. (2020). Who is the Sexually Progressive Subject? Sexual, Cultural and Ethnic (Un)Belonging among Younger Iranian-Dutch. International Journal of Cultural Studies. 23(1), 42-59.

Roodsaz, Rahil. & Van Raemdonck, An. (2018). The Traps of International Scripts: Making a Case for a Critical Anthropology of Gender and Sexuality in Development. Social Inclusion, 6(4), 16-24. 

Roodsaz, Rahil. (2018). Probing the Politics of CSE in Development Aid through the Paradox of ‘Universality’ versus ‘Cultural Sensitivity’: A Dutch-Bangladeshi Collaboration on Adolescent Sexuality Education. Sex Education, 18(1): 107-121.

Roodsaz, Rahil. & Jansen, Willy. (2018). Enabling Sexual Self-Fashioning: Embracing, Rejecting and Transgressing Modernity among the Iranian Dutch. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, February, 2018:

Roodsaz, Rahil. & Van den Brandt, Nella. (2017). Properly Gay? The Constructions of Ethno-Sexual Subjectivity in Sexual Counter-Narratives of Civil Society Agents. Lambda Nordica – Nordic Journal of LGBTQ Studies, 22(2-3): 68-92.


Book chapters

Roodsaz, Rahil en De Graeve, Katrien. (2020). Inleiding. In: R. Roodsaz & K. De Graeve (eds), Intieme revoluties. Praktijken van verzet in seks, liefde en zorg. Amsterdam: Boom, 4-14.

Roodsaz, Rahil en De Graeve, Katrien. (2020). Een sociaalhistorische kijk op intimiteit. In: R. Roodsaz & K. De Graeve (eds), Intieme revoluties. Praktijken van verzet in seks, liefde en zorg. Amsterdam: Boom, 15-23.

Roodsaz, Rahil. (2020). Vacillating in and out of Whiteness. Non-Religiosity and Racial (Dis)identification among the Iranian-Dutch. In: M. van den Berg, L. L. Schrijvers, J. O. Wiering & A.M. Korte (eds), Transforming Bodies and Religions: Powers and Agencies in Europe. London and New York: Routledge.

Roodsaz, Rahil. (2016). Sexual Fashioning of Transgressive Selves among the Iranian Dutch Younger Generation. In: A. Gambrell, D. Osborne & L. Buttigieg, Connecting, Rethinking and Embracing Difference. Inter-Disciplinary Press. (eBook)

Roodsaz, Rahil. (2015). Dutch Mercantilism and the Emancipation of Black Women. In S. Dudink & L. Plate (eds.), Myths of Gender: Essays for Willy Jansen. Nijmegen: Vantilt, 59-63.

Roodsaz, Rahil. (2015). De uitdaging van inclusief feminisme. In: A. Meulenbelt & R. Römkens (eds.), Feminisme van nu in woord en beeld. Amsterdam: Atria/Spectrum, 256-260.

Roodsaz, Rahil. (2014). In the Service of Modernity. The Gendered Deployment of Premarital Sexuality in Processes of Identification among Iranian Dutch. In: K. Leurs & D. Olivieri (eds.), Everyday Feminist Research Praxis, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press.


Other publications

Roodsaz, Rahil. (2021). Dialogical Encounters and Unexpected Links: A Reflection on the Conference ‘Religious Transformation and Gonder Contestations in/and the Study of Religion, Gender and Sexuality’, 10-12 March, 2021, Utrecht University. Beyond 'Religion versus Emancipation’ | Conference Reflection: Dialogical encounters and unexpected links, by Dr. Rahil Roodsaz ( 

Roodsaz, Rahil. (2018). Irreligiosity and Belonging: Reflections on an Iranian Dutch Dance Performance. Religious Matters, March 2018:

Roodsaz, Rahil. (2016). Gendering Leisure. In: M. Cloïn & W. Portegijs, The Quality and Quantity of Free Time among the Dutch. The Hague: Social and Cultural Plan Bureau.

Brandt van den, Nella; Roodsaz, Rahil. & Kerckem van, Klaartje. (2015). In Conversation with Merhaba and Respect2Love about Emancipation at the Intersection of Sexual, Ethnic and Cultural Diversity. Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies, 18(2), 197-216.

Seikaly, May; Roodsaz, Rahil. & Egten van, Corine. (eds.) (2014). The Situation of Women in the Gulf States. Brussel: Policy Department, Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs, European Parliament.     

Roodsaz, Rahil. (2011). Constructing the Self among Iranian Dutch through the Rhetoric of Homosexuality in the Beginning of the 21st Century. In G. Amin (ed.), Identities and Challenges, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Iranian Women’s Studies Foundation, 62-89.