Please note that this is not a call for papers for a forthcoming conference but the Call for Papers for the conference that was concluded last November, 2004. It is included in this website as part of conference documentation.

Body and Sexuality: Theological-Pastoral Perspectives of Women in Asia
Organized bi-annually by the Ecclesia of Women in Asia
Venue: Jogjakarta, Indonesia

Background

Ecclesia of Women in Asia (EWA) is a forum of Catholic women who are “doing theology” in Asia. It was conceived at a Conference of Asian theologians at Pune, India in November 2001. Exactly a year later, this dream came to birth at the first EWA conference in Bangkok, which brought together about 55 women theologians from 17 Asian countries.

EWA aims to:

1. Bring together Catholic women “doing theology” in Asia. This includes all those engaged in theological endeavours – academic theologians as well as those women promoting theology in pastoral and grassroots situations.
2. Provide space to Catholic women to have their voices heard, to articulate thoughts and reflections.
3. Evolve theologies from the perspective of Asian Catholic women.
4. Encourage Asian Catholic women to engage in theological research, reflection and writing.
5. Create networks with different Asian or non-Asian feminist grassroots/theological movements.

The focus on theology comes from the need for Asian women’s voices to be heard in theological debates. The emphasis on Catholic women comes from the realization that Protestant women in Asia have already established groups which provide support. While some Catholics belong to these, the specific needs and issues of Catholic women requires a network which, at least for the short term, will encourage Catholic women theologians to make their voice heard.

An elected central committee has devoted itself to the realization of the aims of EWA through a web-site http://geocities.com/ecclesiaofwomen, editing of selected papers from EWA I for publication and planning the second conference of EWA , which will be held in Jogjakarta, Indonesia on November 16-19, 2004 or January 2005.???.

2004 Conference Theme

The general theme for EWA II will be Body and Sexuality: Theological-Pastoral Perspectives from Women in Asia. The committee chose this topic because it lends itself to many different avenues of exploration:

* The many different traditions of Asian cultures have specific approaches to bodies and to sexuality. What would emerge from a mutual dialogue with the Judeo-Christian perspectives that developed out of Western experience, history and cultures?
* Asian women writing theology bring their own experience of being embodied, sexual beings to a variety of theological explorations: scriptural study, anthropology, ecclesiology and sacraments to name just a few. Reflecting on the specific perspective they bring could enrich the theological search.
* The Federation of Asian Catholic Bishops Conference has put out the draft of the document on the family, “The Asian Family towards a Culture of Life”. Many issues in this paper link to our conference theme and some women may wish to develop or dialogue with positions in that document.
* Friendship; the joy, beauty and vulnerability of sexual intimacy; celibacy; sexual orientation; mutual empowerment of women and men; relationships fostered in cyber-space: all these call for enlightened theological reflection.
* The body in relation to the environment; privacy and space; media and the body; gendered space and religious space; representations in literature and art, open up interdisciplinary possibilities.
* Women involved in pastoral care often find their perspective challenges or enriches accepted pastoral practice(??): theological reflection, spelling out the convictions which animate their responses, could provide new insights.
* Women trafficking, child pornography, pedophilia, prostitution, the whole issue of AIDS; the impacts of poverty and drugs on bodies: what action do we take and why?
* A holistic spirituality which integrates our sexuality and sense of selves as body-persons: what can Asian traditions contribute?

Thus, the theme of this conference gives an opportunity to bring fresh insight and passion to any of number of topics that cluster under the heading: Body and Sexuality: Theological-Pastoral Perspectives from Women in Asia.

Call for Papers

This letter, therefore, is a “call for papers,” with a view to identifying potential participants in the proposed conference. EWA’s emphasis on encouraging discussion and theological writing by Asian women means that the fundamental criterion for participation in this conference is the ability and willingness to write and present an original and creative theological paper. Specifically, this invitation is extended to all Catholic women who are Asians or who live and/or work in Asia to submit an abstract of about 300 words by 30th of May, 2003 on an intended paper. Then, by 1st July 2003 those who submitted abstracts will be informed if they can be accommodated as Paper-Presenters at the conference. All Paper-Presenters are then expected to submit their finished paper by 15th October, 2003.

Identification of Paper-Presenters

As soon as we receive all the abstract submissions, a screening committee will go about identifying those who could be Paper-Presenters, taking into account the following criteria: relevance to the theme, consideration of the Asian contextual perspective, originality of insight, organization and structure of the planned paper, as well as, representation by country. Those who are not identified as Paper-Presenters but who would like to attend as non-Paper-Presenting participants will also be welcome, contingent, of course, on the space and funding limitations. Either way, you would be notified by 1st. July, if not earlier.

We discovered last time that too many papers meant that insufficient time could be given them, and that people were a bit overwhelmed with pre-reading. Fewer papers will be nominated this time. It is expected that two or three abstracts will be chosen for plenary presentation. The authors of these will be asked to write an appropriate 3,000 word paper. Depending on time and common themes, a number of other participants will be asked to develop their ideas into shorter papers of approximately 2000 words, which will be explored in smaller interest groups. All Papers, both Plenary and interest group, will be submitted by 15th October 2003.

Process of the Conference

The papers will be circulated to all participants, for reading before they arrive for the conference. The conference will consist of plenary and small group sessions and it is hoped there will also be an invited guest speaker. The small group sessions will be the time for peer-review and critique of the papers.

The conference will provide opportunities for expanding our awareness of issues from other Asian countries, input, discussion, prayer and networking. To stimulate ecumenical exchange, a few women from other churches will also be invited. The book containing some talks from the EWA I will be launched at this conference. Time will be set aside as well for EWA business matters.

Commitment

As this process implies, a certain degree of commitment is expected of all participants. Specifically, participants are expected to prepare before the conference, and DO something after the conference, especially upon returning to their home country and diocese. This could take the form of a commitment to advance the cause of Women’s theology by organizing a mini-EWA or conscious efforts to write theological articles periodically, etc.

Non-Asian and Non-Paper presenting Participants

An open invitation is also extended to leading women theologians from other continents who might be interested and willing to come and share their experiences with us. We can benefit from such support and solidarity, just as we hope it will provide an opportunity for us to develop greater networks with our sister Catholic theologians from elsewhere in the world. Such guests would be limited to at most 10 % of the total number of participants. They will not be asked to present a Paper, but will be expected to participate fully in the entire process and complement our deliberations and reflections. Intending non-Asian participants are therefore invited to complete the “RSVP,” minus the abstract submission. Likewise, any others who would like to attend as Non-Paper-Presenting participants are also invited to submit the “RSVP.” The extent to which we will be able to accommodate Non-Paper-Presenters is subject to space and funding limitations. Either way, Non-Paper-Presenters will also be informed by 1st July 2003.

Funding

While efforts are being made to raise some funds, we have no guarantees about the outcome of this. Therefore, we ask that each intending participant seek funds for travel to and from Jogjakarta. Specifically, those who work in some sort of institution are encouraged to seek help from your university, seminary, pastoral centre, diocesan office or parish movement and religious sisters are asked to seek help from your congregations, etc.. We will try our best to help those who have difficulties, especially those coming from poorer countries and dioceses. Thus, if intending participants can meet their own travel expenses, it will be more possible for us to support those with greater difficulties. The conference fee including all room, board and other local expenses will come to about US$ 150 per person. We will raise enough funds to take care of this for all participants. But we will welcome any contribution, however small, from those who can afford it.

RSVP:

Those who are remotely interested in participating in the proposed conference, either as Paper-Presenters or as Non-Paper-Presenting participants, please write in as soon as possible, preferably by April but no later than 30th of May.

A. Paper-Presenters: Send an abstract (300 words) of the proposed paper.
B. Provide the information below (ensure you complete ALL):
1. Name
2. Address,
3. Tel, Fax
4. Email (essential, since future communications will be via email)
5. Age group: select from (20 – 39), (40 – 59) or (60 above)
6. Indicate if you are a lay woman, or to which religious congregation you belong.
7. Profession, occupation, etc.
8. Church organizations, NGO activities, etc.
9. Academic qualification, etc.
10. A few lines on the context in which you “theologise”.
11. How much help would you need to subsidize your travel to and from Jogjakarta? (This is absolutely essential so we can know our budget limits. If you are able to take care of your full travel expenses, please indicate that also)

Future Correspondence:

It would be preferable that correspondence be done via email. Do not even bother to send the hard-copy once an email is sent. If you absolutely do not have access to email, then use the fax.

EWA Continuity Committee (CC):
Dr. Agnes Brazal, Cc Coordinator (Philippines)
Dr. Christine Burke, ibvm (Australia)
Ms Intan Darmwati, (Indonesia)
Dr. Antoinette Gutzler,mm (Taiwan)
Dr. Pushpa Joseph, fmm
Atty. Andrea Lizares Si, (Philippines)
Sr. Sanae Masuda, rscj (Japan)
Dr. Evelyn Monteiro, sc (India)
Dr. Teresa Tsou, sss (Taiwan)

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