The Women’s Studies in Religion Program at the Harvard Divinity School recently announced its selection of five scholars as 2008-09 research associates and visiting faculty. Each year the program brings five scholars to campus to pursue interdisciplinary research projects on women and religion. To date, the program has supported more than 100 scholars. The program’s research associates are selected by a search committee that is appointed by the dean and is advised by the program’s national scholarly academic advisory committee.
The research associates, including their projects:
Anthea Butler is an assistant professor of religion at the University of Rochester and teaches in the areas of African-American religious history, American religious history, and women and gender studies. Her project is titled “The Swamp Angel of the South: Joanna P. Moore and Home Missions Work, 1863-1916.” It explores the life of Joanna P. Moore, an American Baptist Home Missionary whose interracial work, women’s organizing, and partnerships with African-American women resulted in the creation of the Bible study magazine HOPE, used extensively by African Americans in the South.
Coralynn Davis is an associate professor of women’s and gender studies and anthropology at Bucknell University, where she teaches core courses in the women’s and gender studies program, as well as courses on feminist anthropology, women and development, and women and the penal system. Her project (“Subjectivity, Subalterity, and Agency in Maithil Women’s Religious Expressive Practice”) examines women’s religious expressive practices in Maithil communities of Nepal, with the aim of understanding the contextual and contradictory nature of subjectivities within intersecting power systems. This necessitates a theory of agency and identity that attends to lived structural environments, interaction among individuals and groups through expression and action, and practices within institutions. Part of the project will be to produce a set of tools advancing our understanding of the persistence of alternative and resistant gender identities in contexts of domination.
Nimachia Hernandez is an independent scholar who taught most recently as an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley. At Harvard, she’ll serve as a visiting lecturer on women’s studies and Native American religions. The title of her project is “Blackfoot Women in the Religious Life on the Western Frontier: Changing Roles and Maintaining Traditions.”
This project investigates women’s roles in the Blackfoot society, both prior to colonization and in subsequent times, particularly in ceremonial aspects, since this area reflects the religious roots for how gender is interpreted and practiced in Blackfoot traditions. It will explore how traditional gender roles, as defined by the Blackfoot religious system, are being changed, and what is being maintained, especially in relation to women’s roles.
Karen Trimble Alliaume is an associate professor of theology and co-director of the Women’s Studies Program at Lewis University in Romeoville, Ill. Her project is titled “Bodies in Motion: Theologizing the Body in Feminist, Catholic, and Cultural Contexts.”
The project will explore whether in Catholicism the nature and meaning of the body, increasingly destabilized in feminist and postmodern theory, remains stable. The project will engage feminist theology, ethics, theory, and literary criticism to examine gaps and constructive relationships among discourses on the body, inside and outside Catholicism: between the lives of Catholics and the idealism of moral teachings, between progressive and conservative Catholics, between feminists and the magisterium.
Ping Yao is a professor of history at California State University, Los Angeles, where she teaches courses in Chinese history, Japanese history, women’s history, religion and society in Chinese history, and Asian-American history. At Harvard, she’ll serve as a visiting professor of women’s studies and Buddhist religious history. The title of her project is “Good Karma Connections: Buddhist Women in Tang China (618-907).” This project situates women at the center stage of Tang Buddhism, exploring their perceived identities and lived experiences, examining their roles in the process of Buddhist sinification. The focus of the research will be Tang epitaphs for Buddhist women.