Special Issue "Feminisms and the Study of “Religions”"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Darlene Juschka

Women's and Gender Studies and Religious Studies Department, University of Regina, Regina, SK S4S 0A2, Canada
Website | E-Mail
Interests: feminist methods, theories, and epistemologies; popluar culture; globalization; feminist history; gender and sexuality studies (ancient and modern); approaches to the study of religion; symbol, myth, and ritual (ancient and modern); folk religions, shamanism, and possession; cross cultural study of religion, ancient Greek and Roman religions; ritual associated with death and burial (ancient and modern)

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This special issue is comprised of multiple essays that engage the work of feminisms in the study of “religion”. Spanning history and geopolitical location this special issue thematically presents the work of feminists as they critically analyze and transform their areas of study. Feminist themes covered are: theories, textual analysis, comparison, representation, power and social construction, conceptualizing being, experience, dystopia and utopia. Examining and applying feminist tools of analysis to and in the study of systems of belief and practice, the essays in this special edition make apparent the work that has been and is being achieved by feminists in the last several decades.

In particular, the topics of interest include:

feminist theories, textual analysis, comparison, representation, power and social construction, body, experience, dystopia and utopia

Submission Format and Guideline       

All submitted papers must be clearly written in excellent English and contain only original work, which has not been published by or is currently under review for any other journal or conference. Papers should be between 5,000 and 10,000 words. A detailed submission guideline is available as “Guide to Authors” at: Most rules given in this style guide are collected from “The Chicago Manual of Style (16thEdition!)”. For more details and more examples, see Chapters 14 and 15 of The Chicago Manual of Style (University of Chicago Press 2010) (Please note the MDPI Chicago layout guide is an adapted version of The Chicago Manual of Style, some changes were made to cooperate with the online publishing method).
http://www.mdpi.com/journal/religions/instructions

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Prof. Dr. Darlene Juschka
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

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Keywords

  • feminisms
  • study of religion
  • feminist theories
  • representation
  • gender
  • sex
  • sexualities
  • heteronormativity
  • intersectionality
  • racialization
  • feminist epistemologies
  • ritual
  • myth
  • dominant masculine hegemonies
  • ontology
  • deities

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle An Imperfect Alliance: Feminism and Contemporary Female Buddhist Monasticisms
Religions 2018, 9(6), 190; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060190
Received: 9 May 2018 / Revised: 10 June 2018 / Accepted: 11 June 2018 / Published: 14 June 2018
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Abstract
This essay lays the elaborate textile of feminist discourse alongside the equally rich fabric of contemporary female Buddhist monasticisms, taking note of places the latter has pulled threads from the former, but also pointing out the ways in which female monastics lead agentive,
[...] Read more.
This essay lays the elaborate textile of feminist discourse alongside the equally rich fabric of contemporary female Buddhist monasticisms, taking note of places the latter has pulled threads from the former, but also pointing out the ways in which female monastics lead agentive, creative, and sometimes rebellious female lives that in subtle and not so subtle ways resist the label “feminist,” or contribute a new motif or fiber to the feminist weave. Case study reports on two innovative Buddhist female communities in Malaysia and Nepal, chosen because they offer examples of innovations within the context of Buddhist female monasticism that are interestingly complex as examples of Buddhist feminist consciousness, will serve to make visible a few particular female Buddhist monastic perspectives. Respectfully called in as interlocutors and cotheorizers, the monastic persons described here offer religious perspectives on norm-following, agency, and coalition-building that expand the feminist frame. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feminisms and the Study of “Religions”)
Open AccessArticle Negotiating Gender Justice between State, Religion, and NGOs: A Lebanese Case
Religions 2018, 9(6), 175; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060175
Received: 4 April 2018 / Revised: 23 May 2018 / Accepted: 24 May 2018 / Published: 28 May 2018
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Abstract
This article explores part of the process of passing a law in the Lebanese Parliament on 1 April 2014 called “Law on the protection of women and other members of the family from domestic violence,” also known as the ‘Protection Law’ or Law
[...] Read more.
This article explores part of the process of passing a law in the Lebanese Parliament on 1 April 2014 called “Law on the protection of women and other members of the family from domestic violence,” also known as the ‘Protection Law’ or Law 293. In a United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) project on Religion, Politics and Gender Equality, the theorists José Casanova and Anne Phillips are engaged in establishing a transnational perspective on religious gender politics. The article then draws on written documentation regarding the discourse connected to the draft law at that time and on field interviews. The interviews were conducted in the period 2013–2016 with religious leaders and resource persons in Christian, Sunni, and Shi’a communities in Lebanon, and with key persons in the NGOs KAFA and ABAAD. An analysis of the arguments for and against the law before it was passed displays the larger field of intersection between feminism and religious practices and the consequences of the Lebanese dual court system. As a study from the Lebanese context when Law 293 was being intensively discussed, the article shows both the authority and the vulnerability of the religious leaders associated with the dual court system. The article also reveals the ambiguity of feminist activists and NGOs toward the role of the religious communities and leaders in Lebanon. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feminisms and the Study of “Religions”)
Open AccessArticle Religious Knowledge, Ineffability and Gender
Religions 2018, 9(6), 170; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060170
Received: 19 March 2018 / Revised: 29 April 2018 / Accepted: 9 May 2018 / Published: 24 May 2018
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Abstract
The issue of ineffability constitutes a significant challenge in the philosophy of religion. In this paper, I first argue that it is difficult to see how the traditional approach, which I call ‘the metaphysical approach’, can address this challenge. I consider then a
[...] Read more.
The issue of ineffability constitutes a significant challenge in the philosophy of religion. In this paper, I first argue that it is difficult to see how the traditional approach, which I call ‘the metaphysical approach’, can address this challenge. I consider then a post-metaphysical approach inspired by Wittgenstein which does look more promising in dealing with the ineffable. Finally, I argue that there are, however, new challenges that have to be taken into account; in particular, I focus here on the problem raised by contemporary feminist philosophers of the gendering of religious knowledge. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feminisms and the Study of “Religions”)
Open AccessArticle Understanding Compliance in Patriarchal Religions: Mormon Women and the Latter Day Saints Church as a Case Study
Religions 2018, 9(5), 143; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050143
Received: 9 April 2018 / Revised: 19 April 2018 / Accepted: 19 April 2018 / Published: 27 April 2018
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Abstract
Defining compliance as acquiescence in situations of inequality, this article explores patterns of compliance to gender traditionalism from the analysis of interviews with Mormon women. Analysis reveals that Mormon women face unique, context-specific mechanisms for stifling resistance to gender traditionalism. Additionally, many of
[...] Read more.
Defining compliance as acquiescence in situations of inequality, this article explores patterns of compliance to gender traditionalism from the analysis of interviews with Mormon women. Analysis reveals that Mormon women face unique, context-specific mechanisms for stifling resistance to gender traditionalism. Additionally, many of the Mormon women interviewed who do not comply with traditional gender expectations regarding motherhood still accept and defend gender traditionalism. We explain this pattern with a concept that we call ideological compensation, which means that women in gender traditional religions defend gender traditionalism even if they do not live it as a way to compensate for their non-compliance. Finally, we find that some of the women frame their compliance to Mormon gender traditionalism as a statement of resistance against the broader society. We describe this phenomenon with a concept known as subcultural resistance. Overall, this study sheds light on how Mormon women interpret traditional gender expectations and the mechanisms that are put in place to stifle resistance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feminisms and the Study of “Religions”)
Open AccessArticle Feminisms and Challenges to Institutionalized Philosophy of Religion
Religions 2018, 9(4), 113; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040113
Received: 26 February 2018 / Revised: 31 March 2018 / Accepted: 1 April 2018 / Published: 5 April 2018
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Abstract
For my invited contribution to this special issue of Religions on “Feminisms and the Study of ‘Religions,’” I focus on philosophy of religion and contestations over its relevance to the academic field of Religious Studies. I amplify some feminist philosophers’ voices—especially Pamela Sue
[...] Read more.
For my invited contribution to this special issue of Religions on “Feminisms and the Study of ‘Religions,’” I focus on philosophy of religion and contestations over its relevance to the academic field of Religious Studies. I amplify some feminist philosophers’ voices—especially Pamela Sue Anderson—in corroboration with recent calls from Religious Studies scholars to diversify philosophy of religions in the direction of locating it properly within the current state of Religious Studies. I want to do this by thinking through two proposals in productive tension: first, any philosophy of religions worthy of the name is intrinsically feminist; second, any philosophy of religions worthy of the name is intrinsically traditional. I want to use the productive tension between these two to illuminate ways calls for broadening the field can be enhanced when such calls are seen as both feminist and traditional. I proceed as follows. First, I note three instances of explicitly feminist work in philosophy of religions that do not suffer from the same narrowness as so-called “traditional” philosophy of religion. Religious Studies critics of philosophy of religion overstate the case in claiming feminist philosophy of religion is too narrow. Second, I develop a useful distinction between the concepts of “tradition” and “institution” to locate forces of oppression more precisely in dynamics of institutionalization so that we might rehabilitate tradition as a resource for combating institutionalized oppressiveness. I do this in response to the hegemony of current philosophers of religion who claim to speak about “the traditional god.” And third, I briefly coordinate four topics in religions from diverse feminist perspectives to help refine paths of inquiry for future philosophy of religions that is both feminist and traditional. My hope is that these clarify a philosophy of religions renewed through feminisms—moving from fringe to normative topics in institutionalized philosophy of religion, maintaining focus on actually existing human beings rather than hypothetically existing transcendent entities. I turn our attention to technical issues surrounding the status of mae chis, Buddhist laity who seek monastic recognition in Theravada. I turn our attention to struggles over fitting criteria for leadership between Mary Magdalene and Peter in early Christian contexts. I have us listen to Muslim women who seek to speak for themselves, many of whom describe Muhammad as a feminist. I have us listen to Anderson’s criticism of arguments about the (non)existence of a god and her promotion of human yearning as guided by regulative ideals as a pointed challenge to institutionalized philosophy of religion. In all these ways and more, feminist challenges to institutionalized philosophy of religion further contribute to diversifying field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feminisms and the Study of “Religions”)
Open AccessArticle In the Study of the Witch: Women, Shadows, and the Academic Study of Religions
Religions 2018, 9(4), 105; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040105
Received: 26 February 2018 / Revised: 26 March 2018 / Accepted: 27 March 2018 / Published: 2 April 2018
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Abstract
This article examines historically competing categories of magic and religion and their gendered traces in the history of religious studies. On one hand, we have a genealogy that traces the term, “magic”, back to an early modern European Christianity trying to understand itself
[...] Read more.
This article examines historically competing categories of magic and religion and their gendered traces in the history of religious studies. On one hand, we have a genealogy that traces the term, “magic”, back to an early modern European Christianity trying to understand itself through contrast with an imagined heresy that comes to be personified with a woman’s face. On the other, we have contemporary political and religious communities that use the identification as Witches to reverse this version of dichotomous Christian gaze and legitimize religious difference, which also comes to be symbolized by a female body. Between these historical moments we have the beginning of the academic study of religion, the theoretical turn in which Christian-dominant scholarship comes to see itself on a continuum with, rather than opposed to, different religions, as first characterized by cultural evolution theories about the origins of religion. Especially given the field’s theological roots, examining the constructed relationships between religion and magic, both of which represent crucial foci for early theorists, through the analytical lens of gender, which does not, provides opportunities to surface implicit assumptions of the current field about what is and is not worth studying. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feminisms and the Study of “Religions”)
Open AccessArticle Learning and Unlearning: Some Reflections on Feminist Praxis and Pedagogic Practice in Religious Studies and Religious Education
Religions 2018, 9(4), 98; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040098
Received: 27 February 2018 / Revised: 23 March 2018 / Accepted: 25 March 2018 / Published: 27 March 2018
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Abstract
This article evaluates the actual impact and potential implications of feminist pedagogy for Religious Studies in universities and Religious Education in schools. It is based on the authors’ experience in the UK, including some international comparisons, with a focus on teaching and learning
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This article evaluates the actual impact and potential implications of feminist pedagogy for Religious Studies in universities and Religious Education in schools. It is based on the authors’ experience in the UK, including some international comparisons, with a focus on teaching and learning from a feminist perspective. Applying Grimmitt’s threefold model of pedagogy as encompassing aims and content as well as method, this article examines the evidence and extent of change in curricula both in universities and in schools in order to identify where change is required and what that change might be. It demonstrates how feminist pedagogy challenges Religious Studies and Religious Education to rethink their content, methods and aims in a variety of ways, pointing to significant advances and areas yet to be addressed. In so doing, it takes account of diverse feminist voices, other pedagogical priorities and other issues surrounding sex, gender and sexuality that challenge the category of the feminine and the appropriateness of a gendered analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feminisms and the Study of “Religions”)
Open AccessArticle Wesleyan (Anti)Feminism: A Religious Construction of Gender Equality
Religions 2018, 9(4), 97; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040097
Received: 28 February 2018 / Revised: 23 March 2018 / Accepted: 23 March 2018 / Published: 27 March 2018
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Abstract
Using ethnographic research and interviews, this article explored the construction of gender equality among students and faculty members at the Asbury Theological Seminary. The institution constructed an unusual blend of egalitarianism and anti-feminism using explicitly religious tools. Specifically, it was found that community
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Using ethnographic research and interviews, this article explored the construction of gender equality among students and faculty members at the Asbury Theological Seminary. The institution constructed an unusual blend of egalitarianism and anti-feminism using explicitly religious tools. Specifically, it was found that community members constructed firm commitments to gender equality from their heavily individualistic theology and from identification with the New Testament Church. The community’s resonance with feminism was also limited by evangelical anti-structuralism and an ethic of Christian humility and moderation. Established constructions of gender equality and inequality in established scholarly, and especially feminist, literature could not fully explain this unusual blend. This paper argues that agency and empowerment can be available to women because of the theological content of their religion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feminisms and the Study of “Religions”)
Open AccessArticle Women’s Circles and the Rise of the New Feminine: Reclaiming Sisterhood, Spirituality, and Wellbeing
Religions 2018, 9(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9010009
Received: 11 November 2017 / Revised: 23 December 2017 / Accepted: 30 December 2017 / Published: 1 January 2018
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Abstract
This paper draws on the results of ethnographic research on ‘women’s circles’; women-only spaces that celebrate sisterhood and the ‘feminine’, including the increasingly globally popular ‘Red Tent’. Women’s circles are non-institutionalized, often monthly gatherings, for women to come together and relax, meditate, share
[...] Read more.
This paper draws on the results of ethnographic research on ‘women’s circles’; women-only spaces that celebrate sisterhood and the ‘feminine’, including the increasingly globally popular ‘Red Tent’. Women’s circles are non-institutionalized, often monthly gatherings, for women to come together and relax, meditate, share stories, partake in rituals, heal, nourish, and empower themselves. Based on fieldwork and in-depth interviews with founders and organizer-practitioners of women’s circles in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany, the study shows how they offer a growing number of women from diverse backgrounds a space that they find lacking in secular-liberal society, out of a desire to ‘re/connect’ with each other, their bodies, their inner selves, and sometimes with the sacred. Women’s circles are indicative of women’s heightened participation in the realm of subjective wellbeing culture, including both elements of spirituality and more secular ‘personal growth’. Against the presumption that circles would be merely expressive of neo-liberal individualist consumer culture or retrograde gender essentialism, the paper argues they can be viewed as sites of sisterhood, solidarity, and dissent, cultivating a new type of femininity grounded in both affirmative and more oppositional forms of emerging feminist consciousness. In response to the so-called ‘post-secular turn in feminism’ and the growing interest for religion and, more recently, spirituality in (secular) feminist theory, the paper pleads for a re-consideration of the rise of women’s spirituality/wellbeing culture in the West as a form of post-secular agency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feminisms and the Study of “Religions”)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Some Gender Implications of the ‘Civilising Mission’ of the Anglican Church for the Acholi Peoples of Northern Uganda
Religions 2017, 8(11), 245; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8110245
Received: 7 September 2017 / Revised: 24 September 2017 / Accepted: 2 October 2017 / Published: 6 November 2017
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Abstract
Anglican missionaries arriving in Uganda’s Acholiland in 1903 saw the local peoples as in need not just of Christianisation but also of civilising. This last consisted primarily of inculcating western notions of gender identities for both men and women, with an emphasis on
[...] Read more.
Anglican missionaries arriving in Uganda’s Acholiland in 1903 saw the local peoples as in need not just of Christianisation but also of civilising. This last consisted primarily of inculcating western notions of gender identities for both men and women, with an emphasis on the wearing of gender-appropriate clothing and terminating the practices of polygyny and bride-price payment. The first missionaries considered the Acholi to have high levels of gender equality but they still believed conversion would improve women’s status through domesticating them and instilling the notion of male superiority, despite the fact that local customary rituals did not distinguish on grounds of gender. Over decades, the population gradually converted to various Christian denominations, mainly Anglicanism and Catholicism, but without abandoning their customary rituals, using them as and when required, to ward off evil or ask for rain, for instance. The most significant impact of the civilising process was arguably the institutionalisation of the notion of masculine superiority now legitimised by appeals to what happened in the Garden of Eden. The paper is based on historical documents, both published and from the missionary archives, as well as on ethnographic research into gender in the region today. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feminisms and the Study of “Religions”)

Other

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Open AccessEssay Transcontextual Narratives of Inclusion: Mediating Feminist and Anti-Feminist Rhetoric
Religions 2018, 9(5), 160; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050160
Received: 31 March 2018 / Revised: 12 May 2018 / Accepted: 15 May 2018 / Published: 16 May 2018
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Abstract
In seeking a path to mediating feminist and anti-feminist narratives, one must begin with a framework of the method of narrative analysis being used. Using the works of such thinkers as Paul Ricoeur and Richard Kearney, I argue that human self-understanding and therefore
[...] Read more.
In seeking a path to mediating feminist and anti-feminist narratives, one must begin with a framework of the method of narrative analysis being used. Using the works of such thinkers as Paul Ricoeur and Richard Kearney, I argue that human self-understanding and therefore sense of identity is narrative dependent. While this idea has its critics, in the framework of the central question of this essay narrative theory is a particularly productive tool. The story that I tell that gives me identity is not only a story about the surface. It is embedded in my being. I do not simply have a story, I am a story and create my world through that story. Narrative is a part of the ontological structure of being human and the ontic experience of being in the world. One narrates one’s life not in the sense of a movie voiceover, but rather as a reflective and reflexive understanding of oneself. Kearney’s work in Anatheism is particularly useful for this discussion. While Kearney’s interest is in the dialectical move from theism to atheism to a synthesis that is an atheist-informed theism, one can see the same trajectory at work in feminism and anti-feminism. If one begins with patriarchy and moves to feminism, the next step becomes anti-feminism informed by feminism. However, there is still room for an additional dialectical move, to regain a feminism that invites in its detractors and reshapes the collective narratives that impact how we interact with each other in community. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feminisms and the Study of “Religions”)
Open AccessEssay What Would the Goddess Do? Isis, Radical Grandmothers, and Eliza Sharples “All Reform Will Be Found to Be Inefficient that Does Not Embrace the Rights of Woman.”
Religions 2018, 9(4), 109; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040109
Received: 26 January 2018 / Revised: 13 March 2018 / Accepted: 29 March 2018 / Published: 4 April 2018
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Abstract
Recent research in the Huntington archive provides new information for assessing the importance of Eliza Sharples’s meaning as a radical feminist, critiquing and using Christianity and pagan female Gods to establish her authority and further her feminist cause. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feminisms and the Study of “Religions”)
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