Symposium: Circumcision as a Contested Practice

Private Parts and Public Debate: Circumcision as a Contested Practice

On Thursday 10 April 2014, scholars from variety of disciplines will get together for a one-day exploratory symposium on the topic of male circumcision. Male circumcision is one of the major topics that challenge the position of religion in the public domain today. Attitudes towards integrity of the body, religious freedom, gender difference, as well as towards our cultural and religious past, all play a role in views on circumcision. 

This Noster symposium will explore circumcision as a religious, cultural and political phenomenon, bringing together scholars from a variety of disciplines, including Jewish studies, Islamic studies, political science, biblical studies, history of Christianity, and practical theology.

Invited speakers include Prof. Dr Ruard Ganzevoort (VU University Amsterdam), Prof. Dr Peter-Ben Smit (Utrecht University), Dr Erin Wilson (University of Groningen), Dr Stella van de Wetering (VU University Amsterdam), Dr Lieve Teugels (VU University Amsterdam) and Dr Karin B. Neutel (University of Groningen). 

The symposium takes place at Utrecht University, Drift 13.





9.30     Introduction: Male Circumcision as a Focus for Religion and Gender in the Public Domain, Dr. Karin B. Neutel (New Testament Studies), University of Groningen

9.50     Masculinity, Circumcision, and Religious Identity in the Contemporary Dutch Debate, Prof. Dr. Ruard Ganzevoort (Practical Theology), VU University Amsterdam

10.10   Circumcision as a Focus for (Inter)Religious Conflict, Dr. Erin Wilson, University of Groningen, Director of the Research Centre “Religion, Conflict and the Public Domain”

10.30   Coffee break

11.00   Plenary Debate with responses by junior NOSTER members: Private Parts and Public Debate

With a response by Marco Derks

12.30   Lunch

13.45   Male Identity, Circumcision, and Muslim Communities, Dr. Stella van de Wetering (Centre for Islamic Theology), VU University Amsterdam

14.05   Circumcision and the Jewish Male Identity, Dr. Lieve Teugels (Judaic Studies), VU University Amsterdam

14.25   Circumcision for Real Men? – A Ritual in Search of Its Function and Meaning in Christianity, Prof. Dr. Peter-Ben Smit (Biblical Studies/Church History), Utrecht University

14.45   Tea break

15.15   Plenary Debate with responses from NOSTER juniores : Rereading the Sources of Circumcision

with Anne Mareike Wetter: 'Achior and Proper Jewish Masculinity - Cutting Otherness Down to Size?'


17.00 Conclusion


For registration please send an e-mail to


Amsterdam Center for the Study of Lived Religion (VU University Amsterdam)

Centre for Religion, Conflict and the Public Domain (University of Groningen)

Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies (Utrecht University)

The Old Catholic Seminary (Utrecht University)


Cultures, Communities, TRIC: Building religious (in)tolerance and reconciliation