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Women's Voices

Session Chair: Darja Sterbenc Erker | Monday, August 24, 3:30-5:30 p.m. | Venue

Anja Pogacnik

Exploring the Marital and Familial Lives of Jain Women in Diaspora: A Study of the Leicester Jain Community

This paper aims to shed light on the experience of Jain women living in Leicester (England) and highlight some aspects of their changing marital and familial lives. Contrary to well-documented Indian norms on premarital behaviour, marriage arrangements, and familial patrilocality, Jain women living in Leicester are (somewhat reluctantly) allowed to engage in premarital inter-gender interactions and dating, primarily search for their own spouses themselves (and rarely have their marriages arranged), and are predominantly neolocal after marriage. Relationships within families are also changing with women gaining more power within the spousal couple and affinial joint families due to their engagement in paid employment and consequential financial independence. I argue that these changes can be interpreted as a consequence of the diminished power and reach of informal social control the community is able to exhibit over its members due to its relative smallness.

Piotr Sobkowiak

Violence against Women from a Buddhist perspective

Non-violence is one of the two main pillars of Buddhism, but even in Buddhism in the West there is gender discrimination. Discrimination of women violates this basic Buddhist principle and is not compatible with values common in contemporary societies. The authoritative religious texts are ambivalent. Yet one can be excluded if one does not follow the norm. How can women reach their goals, if those who are in power in religions refuse to discuss such matters? In this paper, using examples from the ancient history of Buddhism as well as the intra-Buddhist and interreligious dialogue during the last 30 years, I want to discuss different possible strategies. My intention is to develop more intensive interdisciplinary cooperation in the field of gender and religion. In order to develop more effective strategies I encourage experts with religious and/or secular backgrounds to respond with their feedback, exchange or advice

Heather Vittum Fuller

Sister Artists: The Artistic Practices of Benedictine Women

Historically marginalized by the patriarchy, the art of Benedictine women often demonstrates a spirituality designed especially for women. It portrays an intimate connection between the female and the divine, answering religious needs which were not met on the more traditional levels of worship. Moreover, in some cases, it serves to shift and transform the tradition, expressing a distinct theology and vision of God. This study examines the historic arts of Hildegard of Bingen and the artist of the St. Walburg Abbey followed by contemporary examples from the artists of St. Benedict’s in St. Joseph, MN, who allowed me to interview them and study their work. Study of the arts often reveals truths about marginalized communities that text alone cannot. Using that methodology, we can increase our understanding of the experiences of women religious and their place as agents of innovation within the ecclesiastical structure.

Elaine Nogueira-Godsey

Ivone Gebara's "On-The-Move" Liberationist Methodology

This paper introduces the on-the-move liberationist methodology developed by pioneering Latin American feminist liberation theologian, Ivone Gebara. “On-the-move” refers to the praxis-oriented, fluid theological engagement that has foregrounded Gebara’s theological evolution, and gave rise to the development of a new Christian cosmology and anthropology, which opened the door for alternative theological discourses (e.g. queer, ecofeminist and feminist liberation theologies). This paper argues that Gebara’s work represents the embodiment of a history of resistance underwritten by the experiences of, poor women. Developed in recognition of the ever-changing nature of her own contexts, Gebara’s methodology resonates with postcolonial theory and therein highlights an endemic anthropological way to construct knowledge. I argue that this constitutes a dialectical production of cultural and social processes symptomatic of, and responsive to the postcolonial condition.


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