Venue and Date: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 6-9 November, 2011
Who We Are
Ecclesia of Women in Asia (EWA) is an academic forum of Catholic women theologians in Asia. EWA encourages and assists Catholic women in Asia to engage in research, reflection and writing from a feminist perspective towards doing theology that: a) is inculturated and contextualized in Asian realities; b) builds on the spiritual experience and praxis of the socially excluded; c) promotes mutuality and the integrity of creation;
d) dialogues with other disciplines, Christian denominations and religions/faiths.
This Call for Papers/Participants is extended to all Catholic women “doing theology” in Asia on the grassroots, pastoral and/or professional level.
Theme and Context:
Pope Benedict XVI, in his 43rd World Day of Communications Message (2009), notes how new digital technologies are “bringing about fundamental shifts in patterns of communication and human relationships.” He also expresses the need for us to learn more about this world in order to evangelize it: “In the early life of the Church, the great Apostles and their disciples brought the Good News of Jesus to the Greek and Roman world. Just as at that time, a fruitful evangelization required that careful attention be given to understanding the culture and customs of those … peoples so that the truth of the gospel would touch their hearts and minds, so also today, the proclamation of Christ in the world of new technologies requires a profound knowledge of this world if the technologies are to serve our mission adequately.”
Computer mediated information technologies (CMIT) such as mobile phones and the internet, have become the new Areopagus (Acts 17: 22-34) where like Paul, we too can proclaim the good news. However, more than simply a site of evangelization like Areopagus, CMIT possesses great potential as a means of evangelization.
Though computer-mediated communication is a phenomenon of post-industrial societies, its use has now rapidly spread to the developing world. Asia, composed of tiger and emerging economies, is both a big producer and consumer of CMIT.
Conscious of the challenge of this new “sign of the times,” the Ecclesia of Women in Asia conference (EWA V) scheduled to be held in November 6-9, 2011, invites paper presenters and participants to reflect theologically on the emerging “wired culture” in the context of Asia and from a feminist perspective.
This conference aims to:
1. Explore how computer-mediated information technologies (e.g. mobile phone, internet, etc.) are changing cultures and transforming [gender] relations
2. Discern the feminist ethical, theological and pastoral challenges in the use of new information technologies and drawing from Asian resources, construct a feminist theology of human connectivity
3. Learn how to deal – as religious educators and formators – with the digital natives.
The following are some of the many issues which may be explored:
v How do men and women differ in their access and use of mobile phones and cyberspace? What are the representations of the “feminine”/female in the net and how do women negotiate gender in the net? How does cyberspace shape views about gender?
v How intimate and supportive are relationships via CMIT? What are the ethical guidelines which should govern virtual relationships (e.g. email brides, cybersex among migrant couples)? How can these principles be used in cases of cyberpornography/cybersex? Is cybersex a lesser evil than prostitution?
v Today families are permeable to the influence of cyberspace and have access to online networks. How does this affect families? How does this affect parent-child and gender relations (e.g. women are no longer isolated)? What does it do to families when members are on call 24/7? How does the use of social networks (e.g. facebook) affect families?
v How do CMIT impact health? (E.g. the effect of transmission towers on the environment, brain tumours, carpel tunnel syndrome, attention deficient syndrome).
v What are the emerging ethics in facebook/mobile communication (e.g. on talking to someone who is texting; interrupting conversations to answer a cell phone)? What is the role of masquerading or “passing off as” (a man passing off as a woman or vice-versa, etc.) in CMIT communications? Do chatrooms foster falsehood?
v How is the internet being used to foster violence against women (e.g. sex trafficking, paedophilia, etc.) Is virtual violence (e.g. cyber-bullying, cyber-rape) less harmful than “real” violence?
v Questions of personal and national security are intimately bound up with the use of cyberspace for personal data collection or for terrorist purposes (e.g. Mumbai attack). What control can we have of the way personal information is used? Is there a constant fear that interactions in cyberspace may never really be private? . How does the constant threat of possible terror strikes affect the psyche?
v What are the socio-economic effects of the networked world? Who are those excluded from access to CNIT?
v Many jobs are now outsourced/available via the internet/call centres. Is the developing world simply a source of cheap labour or does CMIT present valuable opportunities for women in emerging economies (e.g. for housewives, retirees, deaf, physically challenged, etc.)? How are the traditional principles of the Catholic Social Teachings on work relevant in relation to online jobs? To what extent are these challenged by these new ways of working?
v What are the practices of marketing done via cyberspace? Do they promote consumerism? What kind of life is being “value-ized”?
v Does the body and consequently gender/race disappear in cyberspace? Is there more equality in cyberspace?
v How dependent are we on the mobile phone/internet (e.g. the feeling of panic when we realise we have left the house without a cell phone or that we are travelling for extended periods without access to internet)? Do mobile phones/internet provide opportunities to self actualize through one’s screensaver, caller tune etc.? Are they becoming extensions of our persons? Does cyberspace culture call for a new concept of the human person? (E.g. cyborg – half-human, half-machine). Can we draw from Asian philosophies/ indigenous beliefs to help construct this new anthropology?
v What norms/images can be drawn from the Scriptures (e.g. the Word, the Spirit, etc.) to make sense of life in cyberspace or to guide a more ethical use of the internet/mobile phones?
v How does cyberspace become a locus of God’s salvation (e.g. for women who are Deaf, physically challenged, from the rural areas, migrants, elderly, GLTBQ, etc.) What new opportunities are given through CMIT to formerly marginalized peoples? Are there new images of Christ emerging from these experiences?
v How do we envision the Spirit working in cyberspace?
v How are churches making positive use of cyberspace to continue Christ’ mission? (E.g. counselling online, e-church among migrants, ministry to the elderly etc.)
v How do e-churches challenge our traditional ways of understanding the “church”? What does “catholic” mean in a networked world”
v Today, more and more people are putting up memorial sites on the web. In the future, it will be possible to continue the memory of a loved one in emails or an interactive program that has captured the quirks and mannerisms of the deceased. What would be the face of eternal life in cyberspace?
v How do the mobile phone/internet affect the living of the vows in religious life (e.g. chastity)
v Some EWA members can theologically reflect on their experience of organizing/linking with other women theologians online. How did they find God’s presence via these activities in the internet?
v What sacred places are constructed in the internet (virtual retreats, virtual chapel, on-line adoration, etc.)? Who benefits from these?
v What websites foster interfaith dialogue? How is Christian identity challenged/enriched in the internet?
Formation/Organizing of Women
v How does access to cyberspace affect the modes of learning of students/religious formandis and how should religious educators respond to this challenge?
v What can be done by [Catholic] schools/parents to educate the students in the ethical use of the CMIT? Can films be used in educating on the dangers in cyberspace?
v How does cyberspace promote cross-border organizing/education for women (e.g. EWA, Catherine of Siena Virtual College, advocacy for women’s rights)?
v How do women religious congregations in Asia make us of the internet for mission? (E.g. offering virtual retreats, virtual chapels, on-line adoration, etc.)
v How do CMIT provide tools for the ordinary person to develop social/civic consciousness? (E.g. responses via cyberspace to newspaper surveys, TV shows, products/services marketing.)
Cyberspace: Space created by the internet
Wired Connected to a telecommunications network, especially the internet
Digital natives Tweens and teens who have had access to
computers, mobile phones, email and other forms of technology since birth or pre-school.
Virtual vs. real Simulated in a computer vs. face-to-face
CMIT Computer mediated information technologies
GLTBQ Gay, Lesbian, Transsexual, Bisexual, Queer
Mode of Presentation
In this “Call for Papers” – the “papers” can take the form of written essays or performed through poetry, art, dance and/or music, even role-play involving audience participation. More unconventionally, hypertext explorations and multimedia texts are encouraged. Submitted texts must be theological in scope, contextualized in Asian women’s lived realities and provide an avenue for critique and ongoing discussion. We aim to publish quality ‘papers.’
Identification of Paper Presenters/Participants
Because of EWA’s emphasis on promoting theological research, a fundamental criterion for participation in this Conference is the ability and willingness to write and present an original, creative theological paper that has never before been published. The deadline for submission of an abstract of about 300 words is 31st December 2010.
A screening committee will then conduct a blind-review of the abstracts to identity 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, methodology and organization of the paper, as well as, representation by country. In terms of methodology, dialogue with feminist theories and other disciplines (i.e. sociology, gender studies, peace studies, race and ethnicity, postcolonial and development studies, human rights, international relations, etc) and faith is highly encouraged.
By 15th February 2011, those who submitted abstracts will be informed if they have been accepted as Paper-Presenters at the conference. All are expected to submit their completed paper (3,000 – 5 000 words) by 15 th September 2011.
Non-Asian and Non-paper Presenting Participants
An open invitation is extended to leading women theologians from other continents who might be interested and willing to come and share their experiences with us. Such guests are limited to 10% of the total number of participants. They will not be asked to present a paper.
Those who would like to attend as non-paper presenting participants (Asian or non-Asian), are also invited to complete the application form as part of the “RSVP” (see below). The deadline for submission of applications from Non-Asian and Non-paper Presenting Participants is 15th March 2011. The extent to which we will be able to accommodate non-paper presenters is subject to funding and space limitations but we expect to be able to notify applicants by 15th April 2011.
Process of the Conference
The papers will be circulated to all participants for reading before they arrive at the Conference. The conference will consist of plenary and small group sessions and it is anticipated that there will also be invited guest speakers. The small group sessions will be a time for further discussion and critique of the papers. The Conference will provide opportunities for deep reflection and expanding awareness of issues from other Asian countries, input, discussion, prayer and networking.
EWA will cover the conference fee, room, and board of all participants. We are raising funds to cover the plane tickets of paper writers. While efforts are being made to raise some funds, we have no guarantees about the outcome of this. We will try our best to fund as well, non-paper presenting participants, on request. Thus, if intending participants can meet their own travel expenses (e.g. by seeking funds from their own institution), it will make it more possible for us to support those with greater difficulties. We will welcome any contribution or counterpart, however small, from those who can afford it.
Those who are interested in writing a paper for this conference are asked to submit their applications (with or without an abstract) on or before 31st October 2010. Please use the on-line form provided with the link below. Non-paper presenting participants can submit their application at the latest March 15, 2011.
It is preferable that all correspondence – including sending of the final paper – be done through e-mail. If you do not have access to e-mail, a FAX number will be provided.
EWA Coordinating Team
Coordinator: Judette Gallares (Philippines)
Assistant Coordinator: Astrid Lobo-Gajiwala (India)
Secretary: Marini Delivera (Sri Lanka)
Treasurer: Intan Darmawati (Indonesia)
Sharon A Bong (Malaysia)
Antoinette Gutzler (Taiwan)
Julia Ong (Singapore)
Web Co-ordinator: Virginia Saldanha (India)
Please send all emails / applications / abstracts / papers to Julia Ong.
The call for papers may also be accessed