May 15, UK Symposium on Gender, Religion and the Atlantic World

May 15, 2014
9:00 amto5:00 pm

A symposium on “Gender, Religion and the Atlantic World” will be held at
Newcastle University, United Kingdom, May 15, 2014.

The relationship between religious experience and gender remains underexplored in academic scholarship. While it is largely held that the ‘victims’ of religion, in all its manifestations, are female, and the ‘perpetrators’ male, the reality is clearly less straightforward. This assumption does, however, beg further investigation into the dynamics attendant upon religious experience and/or practice, and gender.
Religion, generally, as a mode of identity production, is currently understudied in postcolonial studies (not least in its intersection with gender), and is richly varied in its manifestations in the formerly colonised – and colonising – Atlantic World. This symposium seeks to address this critical lacuna.

In 1937, Jamaican feminist journalist, poet and playwright Una Marson argued that religion appealed more to women than to men; at the same time, a male colleague lamented that Jamaican manhood was “not progressing as it should.” This symposium will ask: is there is a connection between a perceived ‘crisis of masculinity,’ ‘feminisation of culture,’ and religion? What is the nature of the intersection between religious practice and gender identification? Furthermore, this symposium hopes to explore how religion has been and continues to be used in processes of masculinisation and feminisation, and in discourses of intimacy, sexuality and affectivity, which have gained critical currency in recent postcolonial scholarship.

The dynamic between men and women, gender and sexuality, is often fluid and unstable in religious expression. Often, praxis and doctrine are not equally aligned. This symposium will explore the religiosity of everyday public and private life by re-evaluating the role religion (in all its forms, canonical or otherwise) has in cultural discourses of the once-colonised world, particularly highlighting its role in gender identity production. It will encourage researchers from all disciplines and levels to discuss questions raised by their own research in an informal atmosphere, suggest best practices and foster networks of communication for further research.

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