Catachreses? Workshop on Gender, Religion, and Postcoloniality.
School of Oriental and African Studies, Center for Gender and Religions Research, University of London.
A report by Dr. Adriaan van Klinken.
On 17-19 December 2012, the first research workshop of the project ‘Interdisciplinary Innovations in the Study of Religion and Gender: Postcolonial, Post-secular and Queer Perspectives’ took place at SOAS, University of London. The workshop, hosted by the SOAS Centre for Gender and Religions Research, a participating institution in the project, and organised by Dr Sîan Hawthorne and Dr Adriaan van Klinken, explored the postcolonial perspective that is key to the project.
The theme of this small-scale and intensive conference was: Catachreses? ‘Gender’, ‘Religion’, and ‘Postcoloniality’. Employing the key concept of ‘catachresis’, derived from Derrida and Spivak, as a preliminary intellectual framework, the aim of the workshop was to explore the complex meanings of, and relationship between religion, gender and postcoloniality, and to disclose, undo, displace and rethink the categorisation and value coding inherent to these concepts.
The open call for papers that had been distributed earlier in the year had met with an overwhelming and wide-ranging response. Thirteen research papers were selected for presentation during the workshop. They represented a range of academic disciplines, thematic focuses, and geographical locations, but all made important theoretical and empirical contributions to the central quest of unravelling and reflecting upon the catachrestic nature of religion, gender and postcoloniality.
The papers gave rise to, and benefitted from, the critical and constructive discussions during the workshop to which both senior and junior participants actively contributed. It is because of the high-level presentations and the rich discussions – which often continued over lunch and dinner – that this workshop turned out to be such a fruitful and inspiring meeting for all the participants. Two other important factors in the success of the workshop were the masterclass for PhD students with Professor Morny Joy, who is a renowned scholar in the field of religious studies, particularly because of her engagement with questions of gender, feminism and postcolonialism, and the closing lecture of Professor Ruth Mas in which she discussed some of her recent work but waving this brilliantly together with many of the issues that had been emerged during the workshop, opening new perspectives for further reflection.
A selection of the papers that were presented will be published in a special issue of the journal Religion and Gender (in October 2013). Furthermore there is a plan to produce an edited book volume with workshop papers and other invited contributions at the intersection of religion, gender and postcolonial theory.
- ‘Catachreses? Religion, Gender and Postcoloniality’, by Sîan Hawthorne, SOAS, UK.
- ‘Challenging Academic Knowledge: “Matriarchal Gender”, Spirituality and Feminist Theories’, by Marita Günther-Saeed, Philipps University Marburg, Germany.
- ‘Translating Temporalities in Feminist and Postcolonial Historiography’, by Victoria Browne, University of Liverpool, UK.
- ‘Catholic Migrant Pedagogies and Atlantic Returns’, by Valentina Napolitano, University of Toronto, Canada.
- ‘Explorations in Post- Colonial Theologies of Intercessory Prayers – Global Shiftings in Liturgical Epistemes’, by Bertram Schirr, Humboldt University, Germany.
- ‘Indecent Theology: Asian Catholic Women Speak Out on Sexuality and Eroticism’, by Jeane Caña Peracullo, De La Salle University, Philippines.
- ‘African Pentecostalism and the Catachrestic Postcolonial Translation of “Gender Equality”’, by Adriaan van Klinken, SOAS, University of London.
- ‘A Genealogy of Anti-FGC Campaigning in Egypt’, by An van Raemdonck, Ghent University, Belgium.
- ‘Female Genital Power in Ritual and Politics: Catachresis in Côte d’Ivoire’, by Laura S. Grillo, Pacifica Graduate Institute, USA.
- ‘Walking a Tightrope: Islamic Feminism Between Politicized Religious Patriarchy and Western Feminist Neocolonialism’, by Monika Bobako, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland.
- ‘The Tao of the Non-Play’, by Amélie Barras and Xavier Guillaume, University of Montreal (Canada) / The Open University & Swiss National Research Foundation.
- ‘Critical Affiliation as Catachresis: Leila Ahmed’s Postcolonial Critique of Islam and Western Feminism’, by Rehnuma Sazzad, Nottingham Trent University, UK.
- ‘Revisiting the Peripheries in Meatless Days: Unveiling Gender and Religious Discourse in Pakistan’, by Ali Usman Saleem and Alexis Weedon, University of Bedfordshire, UK.
List of participants
Prof. Ulrike Auga, Humboldt-Universität Berlin, Germany
Dr Amélie Barras, University of Montreal, Canada
Dr Monika Bobako, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland
Dr Victoria Browne, University of Liverpool, UK
Dr Jeane Caña Peracullo, De La Salle University, Philippines
Dr Laura S. Grillo, Pacifica Graduate Institute, USA
Dr Xavier Guillaume, The Open University & Swiss National Research Foundation
Dr Marita Günther-Saeed, Philipps University Marburg, Germany
Dr Sîan Hawthorne, SOAS
Ellie Higgs, SOAS
Prof. Morny Joy, University of Calgary, Canada
Prof. Anne-Marie Korte, Utrecht University, Netherlands
Samantha Langsdale, SOAS
Jennifer Loh, SOAS
Dr Chia Longman, Ghent University, Belgium
Dr Ruth Mas, University of Colorado Boulder, USA
Dr Valentina Napolitano, University of Toronto, Canada
Jonathon O’Donnell, SOAS
Payal Patel, SOAS
Alexandra Rijke, Utrecht University, Netherlands
Ali Usman Saleem, University of Bedfordshire, UK
Dr Rehnuma Sazzad, Nottingham Trent University, UK
Bertram Schirr, Humboldt University, Germany
Kavita Unadkat, SOAS
Mariecke van den Berg, University of Twente, Netherlands
Kathrine van den Bogert, Utrecht University, Netherlands
Nella van den Brandt, Ghent University, Belgium
Dr Adriaan van Klinken, SOAS
An van Raemdonck, Ghent University, Belgium