Tuesday, January 20, 2015

CfP: Female Religious Authority in Southeast Asia: Exemplars, Institutions, Practices

A double session on "Female Religious Authority in Southeast Asia: Exemplars, Institutions, Practices" will take place at the EuroSEAS Conference in Vienna, August 11-14, 2015.

The panel description is below and paper proposals on the topic are invited.This panel shall also include papers on religions other than Islam.

Interested parties are requested to send a 300 word paper abstract until February 15, 2015 (to David Kloos <Kloos@KITLV.NL> and Mirjam Künkler <kuenkler@Princeton.EDU>).

CfP: Female Religious Authority in Southeast Asia:  Exemplars, Institutions, Practices

This panel looks at forms of, and changes in, female religious authority in Southeast Asia in comparative perspective. The significant role of women in participating in, and shaping, religious scholarly traditions through the centuries is still hardly reflected in either academic or public perceptions. Nearly all classic accounts of religious authority, whether in Islam,  Buddhism or Catholicism, proceed from the assumption that this authority is male. The possibility that women might exercise various aspects of religious authority is usually not considered. Yet, when we dissect religious authority into its various manifestations (leading prayer, preaching, providing religious counselling, issuing legal injunctions, redacting and transmitting scripture, judging in religious courts, shaping the scholarly tradition), nuances emerge that call the exclusively male character of religious authority into question.
        In recent years, a few case studies of women exercising any of these roles in particular contexts have been published by scholars working in different fields, including history, sociology, anthropology, politics, and law. Publications have focused on such topics as female teachers, scholars, and preachers, women’s religious reading and study groups, ritual leadership, the role of the state in shaping female religious authority, and religious feminism. What is missing are comparative accounts that attempt to formulate hypotheses as to which conditions and developments (theological, jurisprudential, social, economic, political) particularly enhanced, promoted, and stifled the phenomenon. This panel will bring together papers that discuss how different actors, including (male) religious leaders, agents of the state, and the majority of ‘ordinary’ or non-activist believers, facilitate female religious leadership? How does this vary across different religious backgrounds (Islamic, Catholic, Buddhist)? What generalizable patterns can be discerned across different religions? And how do these patterns relate to national contexts and the importance of locality?

Conveners: David Kloos and Mirjam Künkler

We will hold a double session with 7-8 presenters and several paper discussants. Papers will be pre-circulated and read by all participants, so that everyone is prepared to discuss the issues at hand in depth.

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