The research team

Portrait of Carla Besora looking at the camera with a faint smile. She is wearing a blue velvety shirt with a golden necklace, has brown curly hair and light skin.

Carla Besora Barti is a doctoral researcher at Ghent University and the University of Amsterdam. Within the LiLI project, she takes an interdisciplinary approach that brings together art and anthropology, informed by her background in visual arts. She focuses on the concept of pleasure to explore older women’s engagement in intimacy work, both as professionals and as participants or clients. After training in the arts in Barcelona and Ghent, she obtained a interuniversity MA in Gender and Diversity (2021) organized by the five Dutch speaking Belgian universities. She is particularly interested in exploring the intertwinements of the poetic and the political in the realms of gender, sexuality, religion/spirituality and visual culture.

For more information on her research and publications:

Picture of project PI against dark grey background. She has a brown bob haircut, wears glasses and looks away from the camera with a serious expression.

Katrien De Graeve is a feminist researcher and associate professor in Gender Studies at the University of Ghent. As the principal investigator (PI), she coordinates the LiLI project. Her work has consistently focused on inequalities in the personal spheres of life. Trained in sociolinguistics and anthropology, she uses ethnographic research and discourse analytic methodologies to study the role of power in shaping intimacies. After meandering through various topics, from transnational adoptive parenting practices to non-monogamous intimate relationships, the fields of sexuality and ageing studies became an increasingly intriguing research topic. Moreover, having turned fifty in 2020, she became more sensitive to ageism also on a personal level.

For more information on my research and publications: see

Gabriëlle de Pooter is a doctoral researcher in the LiLI project. Applying social geography and feminist new materialism, she examines how space and place affect the experience of gender, sexuality, and aging. She explores how people who mostly act within the norm do sometimes deviate from the norm. She completed a BA at University College Roosevelt (Middelburg) and a MA in Contemporary Art at Manchester University (via Sotheby’s Institute of Art New York). After eight years of professional experience in the cultural heritage industry, she graduated from the interuniversity MA program in Gender and Diversity (Belgium, Dutch speaking universities), with a thesis on the politics of abortion rituals, applying a feminist new materialist lens.

For more information on her research and publications: see

Sara De Vuyst covers the cultural studies component within the LiLI project. She decided to focus on queer representations of ageing women and how they disrupt normative ideas on older women’s intimate desires. While exploring the meaning of these unruly messages, and their production process and use, her aim is to construct, together with older queer women, alternative narratives on ageing and sexuality to the ones currently prevailing. She has a passion for feminist and queer media studies and obtained a PhD in Communication Studies at Ghent University in 2016, with a thesis that focused on gender issues in journalism. From 2017 to 2020, she continued this research with a postdoc study on intersectional aspects of online harassment in journalism.

For more information on her research and publications: see

Nika Looman is a cultural anthropologist doing their PhD within the LiLI project. They take a feminist anthropological approach on later-in-life sexuality and intimacy, with a focus on older (gender)queer women and non-binary people. They are interested in topics related to sexuality and intimacy such as (online) dating, (new) relationships, non-normative relationships and sexual practices. By centralizing the stories and experiences of queer women and non-binary individuals, they aim to challenge and redefine dominant heteronormative narratives of ageing. Nika studied at Radboud University Nijmegen. Their interest in sexuality and gender studies culminated into a MA thesis (2018) on genderqueer and non-binary people in the Netherlands.

For more information on their research and publications: see

Giulia Nazzaro joined the LiLI project as a postdoctoral researcher to facilitate the co-creation of a new theory of later-in-life sex and intimacy. She finds the conceptual exploration of “unruliness” particularly fascinating, especially its practices, embodiments and expressions in relation to space, place, art and materiality. In her previous research, she has consistently explored the relationship between forms of activism and gender and sexuality via visual ethnographic methods in diverse contexts, such as the USA and Australia. For the LiLI project, she continues using similar methodologies to conduct fieldwork in the francophone communities in Belgium, and Brussels in particular, to investigate alternative urban spaces of habitation and their connection with later-in-life desire and intimacy. Finally, within LiLI, Giulia co-supervises Gabriëlle de Pooter’s PhD.

For more information on their research and publications: see

Advisory board:

  • Luce Beeckmans is an assistant professor in Architecture and Urbanism related to Migration and Diversity and a senior post-doctoral research fellow funded by the Flanders Research Foundation (FWO). She is affiliated to Ghent University (Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, head institution), KU Leuven University (Interculturalism, Migration and Minorities Research Centre) and Antwerp University (Urban Studies Centre) in Belgium. In her research, she applies an interdisciplinary perspective, combining methods and insights from architecture and urban planning, ethnography, human geography, post-colonial studies and urban studies. Within the LiLI project, Luce Beeckmans acts as the co-supervisor of Gabriëlle de Pooter’s PhD. For more information on her research and publications: see (in Dutch).

  • Ladan Rahbari (PhD mult.) is an assistant professor at the Department of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and a senior researcher at the International Migration Institute (IMI). She was formerly based in Ghent University as the recipient of an FWO (Research Foundation Flanders) postdoctoral fellowship (2019-2022). Rahbari obtained a PhD in Gender and Diversity (Studies) from UGent and VUB (2019) and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Mazandaran (2015). Her research interests include gender and body politics, race, migration, and digital media, focusing on Iran and Western Europe and in the frameworks of postcolonial, feminist, and critical theories. She is currently affiliated with the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR), the Amsterdam Research Centre for Gender and Sexuality (ARC-GS), the Ghent University Centre for Research on Culture and Gender (CRCG), and the Brussels VUB Centre of Expertise on Gender, Diversity and Intersectionality (RHEA). Within the LiLI project, Ladan Rahbari is the co-supervisor of Nika Looman’s PhD. For more information on her research and publications: see

  • Rahil Roodsaz is a cultural anthropologist and an assistant professor at the Department of Anthropology of the University of Amsterdam (UvA), where she also teaches in Interdisciplinary Social Science. Her current research project (2019-present) focuses on romantic love and the queer potential of non/monogamies in the Netherlands. In 2015, she defended her PhD thesis Sexual Self-fashioning among the Iranian-Dutch, based on an ethnographic project conducted at the Institute for Gender Studies of the Radboud University Nijmegen. Her fields of interest include sexuality, intimacy, gender, subjectivity, belonging, migration and late modernity. Within the LiLI project, Rahil Roodsaz co-supervises Carla Besora’s PhD. For more information on her research and publications: see

Ethical advisor:

  • Rachel Spronk is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), working at the intersection of three scholarly fields - anthropology, gender and sexuality studies, and African studies. Her current work focusses on the (idea of) the middle classes in Kenya and Ghana and how social transformations across generations relate to changes in gender, sexuality and personal identity. In her work she combines the ethnographic study of practices and self-perceptions with the task of rethinking our theoretical repertoires. She is member of the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR) Ethics Advisory Board which promotes an ‘ethics of care’ rather than the usual ethics of regulation. For more information on her research and publications: see

Photography: Michiel Devijver

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