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Fifth International, Interdisciplinary Conference

Existing gaps in World Christianity and the Anthropology of Christianity scholarship regarding women’s agency and gender dynamics in processes shaping the demographic, cultural, and epistemic shifts that Christians are experiencing worldwide deserve further critical scholarly scrutiny. This is against the backdrop of often-overlooked women’s contributions in historiographical narratives of World Christianity locally and transnationally, current women demographics as representing the majority Christian population around the world, and gender-conscious research. Scholarship needs to critically revisit women’s demographics, role(s), agency, and gender inequalities in church and society across different cultures; the politicization of women’s ordination; as well as the enduring (in)visibility of women as church founders, leaders, members, actors in everyday life of local-global religious settings. A recent study shows that “Although women make up the majority in Christian congregations worldwide, massive data gaps still exist that hinder women’s full recognition in Christian organizations” (Zurlo, Johnson, Crossing, 2023). Engaging “World Christianity as a women’s movement” (Robert 2006, 2009) would therefore involve revisiting existing assessments regarding conversion rates, demographic trajectories, and current gendered discourses of (dis)empowerment. These considerations have crucial implications for World Christianity scholarship as well as for the future of global Christian statistics, cross-cultural faith, mission and praxis. “Questions remain as for ways in which World Christianity scholarship perpetuates colonial hegemonic practices and norms, and the extent to which it acknowledges and validates the diversity of “Christian life expressions around the globe” (Womack and Barreto, 2023). They question: “What histories, practices, or identities have been left invisible in the field of World Christianity? Which voices and experiences remain marginalized within Christian communities around the globe?”

This interdisciplinary conference invites scholars from across the globe to engage these and the interrelated questions: Why do women continue to be relegated in historical and current discourses on World Christianity? Why are women and gender discourses left to the exclusive preserve of female scholars? How are emerging theologies, spaces, discourses, female bodies, agency, and polities increasingly gendered and negotiated within World Christianity? What is the place of men within religious (sacred) spaces founded and led by women? Which theoretical and methodological tools does this field offer to increase comprehension of ritual, political, economic, and social roles often associated with women in different cultural contexts worldwide, including diasporic communities? How is power gendered and negotiated in patrilocal and matrilocal sociocultural contexts and milieus within which global south and diaspora Christianities thrive today?

The conference also seeks to interrogate interrelated themes such as pioneer women scholarship in the evolution of the interdisciplinary field of World Christianity; women and religious demographics; the intersectionality of gender, sexuality, and leadership dynamics across local and translocal cultural dynamics; the interpersonal relations of women and men in the polity, leadership, vertical and horizontal mobilities of World Christianity; women and lived religious life expressions and experiences; women’s ordination, gendered power and theological imagination; women, mission, and missionaries; women as theologians, gendering theology; women as religious entrepreneurs, saints, martyrs and heroines; women, indigenous cosmologies and Christianity; rituals, female bodies and sexuality; women, ritual action and performance; spirituality, songs and music vis-à-vis gender and sexuality; feminist and womanist theologies; women, spiritual, social, cultural, political and economic capital; women and agency in church and civil society; intercultural understandings of gender; youth and intergenerational dynamics; women, migration and diaspora Christianity; Bible/Scripture, Women and World Christianity; women, gender and interfaith perspectives – Islam, Indigenous religious traditions.

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