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Gender (In)Equality: Religious Strategies and Politics

Session Chair: N.N. | Friday, August 28, 9-11 a.m. | Venue

CL Nash

Nineteenth Century America’s theological narrative is influenced, in part, through experience with newly encountered groups as the Other. For example, the Cult of True Womanhood (the Cult) defines women’s norms (1820-1860) and creates a dichotomy between Black and White Christian women. A White Christian woman is everything an enslaved Black woman is not: sexually pure, pious, submissive, and upon marriage, mothers. In Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861), author Linda Brent simultaneously identifies herself with the Cult’s mandates as a christological formula of bodily virtue, while also creating a rare meta-language of sexual autonomy. The thesis: nineteenth century American slave women created a previously over-looked theological narrative defined through: sexual autonomy, theological query, audacity and weeping mothers, suggesting a revisionist approach to America’s historical theology. It uses doctrinal themes of atonement and theodicy, drawing on such critical theoretical notions as regulation, biopolitics and necropolitics.

Lovemore Ndlovu

Pentecostal Responses to Gender and Social Inequality – The Case of Celebration Church in Zimbabwe

In this study, the author examines how religion responds to social equality, democracy and egalitarianism. Research on gender and African Pentecostalism has focuses on the shifting roles of women and how women negotiate gender in an African context. In order to contribute to this debate, a study was conducted to investigate how Pentecostalism deals with social equality, democracy and egalitarianism. The study found out that the Celebration church in Zimbabwe embraces social equality as it advances the notion of equality between man and woman. It acts as a ‘trade union’ of woman emancipation and advancement as it breaks the traditional patriarchal-based systems that are evident in African society. Women thus see Pentecostalism as one avenue towards upward social mobility.

Tammy Vanessa Wilks

An Ecofeminist Perspective on Daily Survival Strategies of Disadvantaged Women in a Post-Apartheid South Africa

This paper seeks to establish if and how international discourses on ecofeminism are engaged in the post-apartheid South African context. The aim is to demonstrate that ecofeminist perspectives in post-Apartheid South Africa is reflected not in the form of social movements for the poor but rather as a shared struggle for survival in a political and social space recovering from apartheid. It will demonstrate how apartheid represented a form of oppression that was detrimental to the ways in which disadvantaged black women related to the environment. By drawing on specific ecofeminist and environmental theories of Ivone Gebara alongside interviews in local disadvantaged communities in Cape Town, it will be shown that women are constantly engaged in a daily struggle for survival and navigate various structures of oppression. Using two South African ecofeminist-based groups, the paper will outline how ecofeminism in South Africa represent possible reactive frameworks against the apartheid legacy.

Diah Ariani Arimbi

Women and The Politics of Piety: Women’s Rights, Roles and Equality in Tarbiyah Movement in Indonesia

The Tarbiyah (education) movement in Indonesia’s Islam today is the best known and has the largest number of members amongst groups in the Dakwah (proselytising) movement that mostly work in Indonesian campuses. This paper aims to explore the numerous and varieties of women’s activities in this movement, especially in relation the ways women see their rights, roles and sexual identities within their notion of piety. Female activists of Tarbiyah movement in Airlangga University Surabaya are used as data. Participation observation and in-depth interviews will used as techniques of data collection. Some finding shows that the Tarbiyah movement’s espousal of women’s issues in an Islamic setting complicates even more the dissemination of such issues to the Indonesian public. One important finding indicates that the Tarbiyah conceives that male and female are segregated in nature (biological construction) yet in that segregation lies irreplaceable equality in any sphere and any value.


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