Van den Hengel, L (Louis)

I work as an Assistant Professor of Gender Studies in the Department of Literature and Art and the Centre for Gender and Diversity at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS) of Maastricht University. Since September 2021 I also am the Associate Programme Director of the BA Arts and Culture at FASoS and Programme Director of the UM-wide minor Gender and Diversity Studies. From 2015 to 2021 I was Vice Chair of the Board of Examiners at FASoS. Nationally, I serve on the Curriculum Committee of the Netherlands Research School of Gender Studies.


After receiving an MA in Classics (cum laude), I specialized in the interdisciplinary field of gender and diversity studies with a particular focus on contemporary feminist theory. I received my PhD in Gender Studies (cum laude) from the Institute for Gender Studies and the Faculty of Arts at Radboud University Nijmegen in 2009. In the same year my monograph Imago on Roman imperial sculpture and the embodiment of gender was published, which was awarded the Jan van Gelderprijs by the Association of Dutch Art Historians. Internationally, I have held various residencies at the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome and I was a Visiting Scholar at New York University in the spring of 2010.


My research examines the potentiality of contemporary art performances for activating new socio-political imaginaries and for envisioning an affirmative ethics of life in the twenty-first century. Combining feminist, queer and decolonial perspectives, I am interested in how performance negotiates new relationships between contemporary art and the cultural politics of gender, sexuality, race, class, and species difference, and how it may help actualize new modalities of being in, and becoming withthe world. One focus in this research is the work of New York-based performance artist Marina Abramovic. I have observed and participated in several of Abramovic's most recent works, including The Artist is Present (New York, 2010), The Abramovic Method (Milan, 2012) and the long-durational performance 512 Hours created at the Serpentine Galleries in London in 2014. In addition, I am developing research about ecosexuality, an emerging grassroots movement that combines environmental activism, performance art, feminist sex-positivity, and LGBTQ+ community building to develop new paradigms for environmental thinking. More recently, I have been working on interspecies performance as a praxis of decolonial love.


My scholarly work has been published in journals such as Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature and the ArtsInternational Journal of Language and CultureBiography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly​; and the Dutch Journal of Gender Studies​. I have also contributed book chapters to edited volumes such as Doing Gender in Media, Art and Culture​ (Routledge, 2018); Entanglements and Weavings: Diffractive Approaches to Gender and Love (Brill, 2021); Animals in Our Midst: The Challenges of Co-existing with Animals in the Anthropocene (Springer, 2021); and the Routledge Companion to Gender, Sexuality and Culture (2022).


Gender and Diversity Studies; Feminist Theory; Queer Theory; Performance Studies; Classical Studies.


Louis van den Hengel coordinates and teaches various courses in the fields of gender and diversity studies, and arts and culture at the University College Maastricht (UCM) and at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS). They have contributed to the development of new curricula through the design of several BA and MA courses, including Cultural Studies I (UCM), Sex, Sexuality and Society (UCM), and Theories and Methods: Images, Affect, Practices (FASoS). Recently, Louis was a core member of the revision team for the MA Arts and Culture. In this capacity, they contributed to the development and design of the new MA programme Contemporary Literature and Arts: Cultural Interventions and Social Justice.

In addition, Louis supervises BA, MA, and PhD theses in various programs at FASoS, as well as internships and individual research projects. Externally, they act as a teacher and project advisor in the MA in Theater at the Toneelacademie Maastricht of Zuyd Hogeschool.