EWA’s 6th Biennial Conference, in collaboration with
Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church”
Venue: Bangalore, India
Date: 14-18 November, 2013
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. It invites women 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 at the grassroots, pastoral and/or professional level.
THEME AND CONTEXT
Power permeates every relationship. This is evident in human relationships as well as in the relationship of humans with the wider environment. The emotional, economic, social, political and cultural dimensions of power form the substratum of relations between individuals, nations, ethnicities, cultural groups and communities, while the decisive power of rational beings determines their relations with nature.
However, power is generally experienced as overt domination or subtle manipulation, which is too often normalized as an inevitable element of daily life. The abusive potential of power comes to play in the hegemonic controls exercised through religious indoctrinations and other socio-cultural ideologies that legitimize the oppression and subordination of marginalized groups. It is palpable in the neo-colonial advances and the shadowy effects of globalization that feeds on the powerlessness of the masses. It is manifested in the use of military, economic and technological might by the superpowers on the less developed nations, and in the all pervasive violence that has become a part of the individual and collective lives of people. More than ever, it is evident today in the brutal rape of the earth and its resources.
The Church is also not free from the abusive exercise of power as apparent in the unrelenting clericalism and the sex scandals that have tainted its image in the recent years. The marginalization of women and their exclusion from the leadership and policy-making bodies, give expression to the gendered dimensions of power equations in the Church. Religious demands made through dogmatic fundamentalist proclamations run the risk of legitimizing the inequalities built into religious hierarchies and gender discrimination, since they claim the authority of God to justify the existing practices.
All the same, power is also understood and exercised in a constructive manner. It is the ability to act, and to influence or enable the behaviour of others with or without their resistance. It is God’s gift to humankind, and its ubiquitous quality stands as a constant sign of God’s challenge to us, to use it to transform the face of the Earth (Ps 104:30). Everyone has power including the marginalized. When they learn to resist domination and assert their rights, they are appealing to the liberative effects of power. In this sense, ‘liberation is a way of talking about power.’
Thanks to the growing feminist consciousness, women are also learning to exercise power in a liberative model. There is a greater acknowledgement by women of their subjugated status and their vulnerability to the abuse of power, in society and in the Church. Women are refusing to remain victims of oppressive structures and relationships, and are asserting their economic agency, political space and above all, their voice. Through this liberative assertion of power women are denying the denigrating patriarchal definitions that label them the ‘weaker-sex.’ In the process they are reclaiming their dignity and personhood.
Theology cannot remain indifferent to these developments in the secular world, religion being a major player in the game of power assertion. The gospels uphold the power of servant leadership, just structures and practices that foster equality across creed, class and gender (Gal 3:28). The different social movements, and in particular the feminist movement, strive to realize this vision of equality which results in the sharing of power. Given this context, the question of power needs to be interrogated theologically with a view to exposing the possibilities for its abuse and promoting its liberative potential.
It is within this framework of socioeconomic, political and religious assertions about power, whether destructive or life promoting, that the Sixth Ecclesia of Women in Asia Conference (EWA VI) scheduled to be held from 14th to 18th November, 2013 seeks to engage theologically with the question of power, setting it against the backdrop of the particularities of the Asian context marked by strong socio-economic disparity, religio-cultural pluralism, and persistent patriarchy. We invite proposals that reflect theologically on Power as Liberating and Transformativefrom an Asian feminist perspective.
The following are some of the many issues which may be explored:
- Biblical understanding of power
– OT vision of power (prophetic figurers /personalities, pericopes/passages or concepts)
– Gospel notions of power and structures of power as envisioned for the Gospel communities
– Pauline concept of power/powerlessness and its implications for Asian women
– Power in the book of Revelation
- Systematic Theology
- Understanding of God
– Powerful and powerless/vulnerable God
– Power relations in God and their implications for human life
– Oppressive and liberating images of God and their effects on power relations among people/communities/ethnic groups, etc.
– Feminist theological understanding of Pneumatology, Soteriology and Eschatology in relation to the question of power
– Power dynamics of the Jesus movement
– Jesus as a model of liberating power
– Jesus’ conflict with structures / people in relation to the question of power in his time and the prophetic challenges posed.
– The Reign of God in relation to power, as envisioned by Jesus Christ
– Christological questions that address the power issues
– Power equations between women and men in the church
– Collegiality as shared power and the threats to collegiality
– Hierarchical power structure in the Church and the question of sharing power with the laity
– Ecumenical questions concerning power
– Power dynamics in the investigation, censure, and silencing of theologians and other groups in the Church (as in the case of Tissa Balasuriya, J.Dupuis and LCWR)
– Ecclesiastical power vs State power: Issues of concern in Asia
– Re-visioning ecclesiology from a feminist theological perspective
– Implications of the doctrinal assessment and apostolic visitation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR)
– The power dynamics in the life and ministry of women religious
- Moral Theology/Ethics
– The socio-economic disparities characteristic of Asia and challenges and prospects for the empowerment of the marginalized
– The shift from “power over” to “power with” relations taking into consideration the class/caste/gender/religious/ethnic differences of Asia
– Individual/Personal Power vis-à-vis Structural Power
– The changing political-economic power equations in Asia (for example, China’s rise to power and its implications to/for the Asian region, e.g. territorial dispute with various Asian countries like Vietnam, Taiwan, Indonesia, India and the Philippines)
– Theological reflections on so-called “people’s power” revolutions (e.g., Philippines’ EDSA revolution and China’s Tiananmen Square, the Middle East’s “Arab Spring,” India’s Anna Hazare movement, etc.)
- Liturgy/Liturgical Theology
– Christian rituals and Asian Christian rituals in particular in relation to power
– Feminist theologizing of power in liturgy
- Christian Mission/Missiology
– Legacies of Christian colonialism and Christian missionary history in the construction of power relations between men and women, and between Mission agencies and the local church
– Feminist assertions of power in missiological developments today
- Pastoral/Practical Theology
– Pastoral plans and outreach focusing on power sharing in the church
– Women grassroots groups and organizations in Asia that are challenging and redefining power in their own communities and countries
– Power of collectivity, networking, inter-being
– Asian women’s strategies (e.g. as activists, religious educators, formators) to witness to liberating power
– Power of the marginalized (the power of resistance)
- Gender question in relation to power
- Theological implications of:
– Gendered powerlessness of Asian women
– Changing gender relations and associated power equations in Asia
– The socioeconomic, political and religio-cultural assertions of women’s power
– Powerful women of Asia: Insights from stories and struggles about women and power
- Church History/Historical Theology
– Feminist theological reading of church history in relation to the power question
– Christendom and its expressions today
– Feminist spirituality and the redefining of power
– Feminist discovery of spiritual power
– Goddess spirituality in the Asian context
– Power in reclaiming the sacredness of the body
– Feminist theological reflections on the ‘erotic as power’
– Power dimensions in overcoming body/spirit dichotomy
– Sexual energy as spiritual energy
– Power of interconnectedness with nature
– Feminist spiritual discourses on cosmic power
- Theology and Culture
– Discursive construction of culture and cultural boundaries in and through theological discourse on power
– Power of interculturality on Christian theology
- Inter-religious theology
– Exploring comparative theology and power
– Interreligious dialogue and power
– Religious pluralism and the power question
– Christian dogmatic assertions in conflict with other religions
– Addressing dogmatism and fundamentalism from the perspective of liberating power
MODE OF PRESENTATION
In this “Call for Papers” – the “papers” can take the form of written essays or presented 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 at publishing 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 2012.
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 countries. 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 2013, 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 15th September 2013.
From the completed papers of active EWA members, three papers will be further selected for skype presentation in at most four colleges/universities in the US and possibly Africa. The papers selected will be announced on or before 15th October 2013. All things being equal, preference will be given to those who have not made a Skype presentation in the last EWA conference.
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 2013. 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 2013.
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 2012. Please use the on-line form provided with the link below. Non-paper presenting participants can submit their application at the latest March 15, 2013.
If the link doesn’t work, kindly use this link or copy it into your browser:
It is preferable that all correspondence – including sending of the final paper – be done through e-mail.
EWA COORDINATING TEAM
Coordinator: Shalini Mulackal (India)
Assistant Coordinator: Julia Ong (Singapore)
Secretary: Margaret Gonsalves (India)
Treasurer: Andrea Lizares Si (Philippines)
Ex Officio Member: Judette Gallares (Philippines)
Intan Darmavati (Indonesia)
Evelyn Monteiro (India)
Web Co-ordinator: Virginia Saldanha (India)
Please send all emails / applications / abstracts / papers to Margaret Gonsalves