7th Biennial Conference
Venue: Manila, Philippines
Date: 21-25 January 2016
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
With the unfolding of the 21st century, women have scaled new heights, crashing through the many glass ceilings that formerly blocked their progress and growth. Women in fact, have been moving from being mere recipients and transmitters of knowledge and tradition to becoming more active participants in the production of knowledge and shaping of tradition.
Besides becoming economically productive, women are coming of age in the exercise of their political agency, through leadership in government at the national, state and local levels as well as in grassroots movements that have swept across nations. Gender roles identified with women in the domestic space have changed.
However, even as women are making their voices heard in the public sphere, their silencing and exclusion have not ceased. It is paradoxical that modernity’s claims to equality has rendered the marginalization of women invisible, particularly that of women in the lower rungs of the social, economic and religious hierarchy. Though women in general enjoy more freedom and power than ever before, they are still disadvantaged when compared to men in virtually all aspects of life. Very many women are deprived of equal access to education, health care, capital, and decision making powers in the political, social, business and religious sectors and in the private space of the family. A great majority of Asian women continue to be marginalized and defined by the patriarchal inscriptions of their particular cultural contexts.
For the 21st century Asian woman, the revolution unleashed by the media and information technology is still a challenge. It is a double-edged sword, creating for women a platform for the realization of their potential while at the same time reinforcing gender stereotypes, thus contributing to the legitimization of women’s subordinate status.
The sexual revolution that began in the last century has continued into the new millennium with the creation of new categories and relationships. Issues and concerns of the LGBTIQ (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer) are increasingly moving towards the center of theological discourse in Asia. While the 21st century has given women the space to assert their sexual identities and orientations, it also continues to victimize them through trafficking and abuse, even within the purportedly “safe” confines of marriage.
Despite stringent laws, sexual violence is still an epidemic across the globe, spilling over into the streets, the workplace and even institutes of learning. From time immemorial it has been and continues to be used as a tool to keep women ‘in their space’. Women’s movements, especially in Asia, have become platforms for women to create a collective identity and voice to address these concerns. Yet their voices are still straining to be heard.
While Asia has crossed the century of colonialism, Asian women still constitute a sizable portion of the new poor emerging from globalization and liberalization which have led to neo-colonization of their countries.
The stronghold of religions and the grip of tradition that underpin the Asian ethos have their bearing on women who are caught between modernity and their perceived role as loyal transmitters of tradition, culture and religious norms and practices. This continues to challenge Asian feminists.
Having said this, it is important to realize that the 21st century woman like her sisters before, is not a monolithic identity. She is marked by plurality according to her positioning on the social hierarchy at the intersection of race, class, religion, caste and ethnicity with gender. This positioning perpetuates the dynamics of women being both victims and oppressors at the same time.
The Churches cannot remain unaffected by these developments in the secular world. Women moving to the realization of their full humanity has its repercussions in the religious sphere. Even while religions continue to legitimize women’s subjugation through their hegemonic codes, and exploit women’s religious inclinations to their advantage, women are asserting their spiritual/religious agency for claiming their rightful place in the sacred space. The legitimization of Feminist Theology and its impact on the teaching and practice of the Church indisputably testify to this.
The dialogical approach of Pope Francis is an opportunity for a greater recognition of women’s role in the Church. In Evangelii Gaudium, he underlines, “I readily acknowledge that many women share pastoral responsibilities with priests, helping to guide people, families and groups and offering new contributions to theological reflection. But we need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church.” (EG 103).
As such it is urgent to re-examine both new developments and old challenges in the light of the 21st century. Theologies that have become obsolete need to be re-written in view of correcting the ideological settings that define the human person in the changing times.
In view of engaging deeper into these theological conversations, the 7th Biennial Conference of the Ecclesia of Women in Asia sends out this Call for Papers on the theme: “The 21st Century Woman Still Claiming Her Space: Asian Feminist Theological Perspectives.”
Below are just some of the broad areas which can be explored for the papers.
Changing gender relations between women and men
– Gender as an analytical category in re-defining man-woman relationships
– Re-thinking masculinity and femininity and related gender roles
– Emergence of the ‘third gender’ and its impact on conventional notions of gender
– Asian women and scripture
– Biblical women prophets and prophecy today
– Biblical personalities, passages, concepts and their significance for Asian women’s theologies (e.g. Revelation 12, etc.)
Feminist Theological Anthropology
– New findings in neurology and its implications on theological anthropology
– Revisiting the “feminine genius”/Mulieris Dignitatem
– Is there need for a theology of women as called for by Pope Francis?
– Feminist perspectives on “grace”
Understanding of God
– Female images/ feminist perspectives of God
– Women’s experience of God and theological implications
– Feminist Pneumatology, Soteriology and Eschatology
– Christological questions that address gender issues
– Jesus as space-giver
– Feminist Mariology
– Marian devotion and Asian women
– What does it mean for Mary to be “more important than the bishops”? (EG 104)
– Hierarchical power structure of the Church and the question of women’s participation
– Expanding women’s ministries (restoration of the diaconate to women; women in the curia etc., in the light of Evangelii Gaudium 103-104)
– EWA as an ongoing feminist theological space for women
– Women in theologies of the laity
– Implications of the doctrinal assessment and apostolic visitation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR)
– Women’s religious leadership in cyberspace
– Teenage girl’s theology
– Comparative feminist theologies/theologies of women from different parts of Asia
– Women and the geo-politics in Asia (e.g., China’s rise to power and its implications for the Asian region, and the territorial disputes with various Asian countries like Vietnam, Taiwan, Indonesia, India and the Philippines)
– Reproduction issues as theologized by women
– The business of Surrogacy in India/Asia.
– Theology of the body
– Feminist theological reflections on her ‘jouissance’
– Feminist theology and Sexual Violence against Women (including sexual abuse in the Church)
– New forms of family (single mothers, mixed marriage, same-sex marriage, etc.)
– New initiatives for the empowerment of women
– Women and work in the context of globalization
– Women’s role in Asian Christian rituals
– Feminist or Feminine liturgy
– Postcolonial Feminist reading of Christian missionary history
– Feminist missiological developments
– Intercultural feminist theology
– Women missionaries
Women’s contribution to the pastoral outreach in the church
Women grassroots groups and organizations in Asia that are challenging and redefining theology in their own communities and countries
Feminist theology of the city
Asian women’s creative strategies for evangelization
Women marginalized by women
Feminist spirituality and the experience of God
Feminist spiritual discourses on cosmology
Comparative theology of women/ feminist theologies of the different religions
Interreligious dialogue and women
Religious pluralism and women
Inter-faith marriages and women
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 15th November, 2014
A screening committee will then conduct a blind-review of the abstracts to identify 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) with theology is highly encouraged.
By December 15th, 2014 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 (3000 – 5000 words) by 15 August, 2015.
From the completed papers of active EWA members, two papers will be further selected for videoconferencing in colleges/universities in the US and in other continents. The papers selected will be announced on or before 15 September 2015. 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 30th March, 2015 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 30th May, 2015.
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, 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 1st November, 2014 Please use the on-line form provided at the link below. Non-paper presenting participants can submit their application at the latest 30th March 2015.
The On-line Application form is available at URL:https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dENZQWRYcjBtbj…
It is preferable that all correspondence – including sending of the final paper – be done through e-mail to the Secretary. Siphim Xavier
EWA Coordinating Team
Coordinator: Kochurani Abraham (India)
Assistant Coordinator: Jeane Peracullo (Phillipines)
Secretary: Siphim Xavier (Thailand)
Treasurer: Teresa Thou (Vietnam)
Consultants: Virginia Saldhana (India)
Antoinette Gutzler (Taiwan)
Ex-Officio Shalini Mulakal (India)
Web Co-ordinator: Andrea Si (Phillipines)