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Confronting Gender and Faith

Avant le 1er août - Berlin

Date de mise en ligne : [16-06-2015]

Mots-clés : religion

International Conference organized by Zairong Xiang (ICI Berlin) and Gero Bauer (ZGD Tübingen)

10 – 11 December 2015

ICI Berlin

Despite generations of feminist and queer deconstructions of gender and sexual binarisms in diverse disciplines, the modern/colonial belief in the heteronormative sexual (and thus gender) binary between ‘man’ and ‘woman’ seems to be still strongly held in contemporary society. In this conference, we would like to explore the relationship between ‘gender’ and systems of ‘faith’ by focusing on three correlations of the two categories : ‘gender as faith’, ‘gender against faith’, and ‘gender in faith’.
We will start by asking if the binary gender system works like a kind of belief and what it would mean to analyse its persistence in terms of faith. Scholarship in religious studies, theology, and anthropology has thoroughly conceptualised, historicised and problematised the concept of ‘faith’, and how it is conceived and practiced (or not) in different religions. How can these discussions help us understand gender as faith, and what are the implications if the concept of faith is mostly relevant to Christianity, as well as – although with significant variations – the other two Abrahamic religions ?
The potential for conflict between the two categories ‘gender’ and ‘faith’ is manifold. Conservative religious authorities rail at gender theory and demonise gender deconstruction and queering as what they would like to identify, coopting its terminology, as ‘gender ideology’. The tension between ‘gender’ and ‘faith’ also takes the form of a widely shared notion among secular academics about the incompatibility of feminist or queer takes on gender and sexual identities and (the study of) religion, often combined with a post-enlightenment insistence on the ‘evil’ of religion, currently most visible in the case of Islamophobia.
The convergences (‘gender as faith’) and conflicts (‘gender against faith’) outlined above inevitably invite us to look closely at the complex and diverse articulations of gender within different religious ‘faiths’ (‘gender in faith’). In fact, these issues have been widely analysed in the wake of feminism from both a historical and a spiritual point of view, and in recent years by queer approaches to theology and religion. Many of these studies have shown that most religious traditions allow for a great variety of gender positions exempted from or beyond heteronormative gendering. Engaging closely with ideas about ‘gender in faith’ could thus be seen to work with, rather than against the queering and deconstruction of gender.
In line with these observations, papers could address, but are not restricted to, the following questions :• Can we describe gender as a ‘faith’ ? If so, how do they complement and contradict each other ? What do ‘faith’ and ‘gender’ mean in terms of this comparison ? • If gender is a ‘faith’, is this idea restricted to contexts and cultures strongly influenced by concepts of faith, e.g. Protestantism ? Or, can analysing gender heteornormativity as ‘faith’ also be relevant to a cultural and religious context that is not focused on faith ? • If queerness seeks to ceaselessly break boundaries and cast doubt on convictions of gender/sexual identification, are ‘queerness’ and ‘faith’ compatible ? How might one make sense of a ‘queer faith’ ? • How do actual non-heteronormative gender positions within religious traditions contradict conservative religious demonisations of gender theory as ‘gender ideology’ ? What are the similarities and differences between ‘ideology’ and ‘faith’ in this context ? Please send an abstract of no more than 250 words and a short bio to genderandfaith@gmail.com. Deadline for abstracts : 1st August 2015 There is no registration fee for the conference. ICI Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry Christinenstr. 18/19, Haus 8 D-10119 Berlin Tel : +49 30 473 72 91 10 www.ici-berlin.org U-Bhf Senefelder Platz (U2)

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