Gendering the Divide: Conflicts at the Border of Religion and the Secular

Overview: 

This is the fourth and final conference in a series developed as part of the multiyear project titled “Public Religion, the Secular, and Democracy: An International Crossdisciplinary Project.” Funded by the Ford Foundation, the project is designed to deepen understanding of the varieties and politics of secularism and the public role of religion, focusing on France, India, Turkey, and the U.S.

This conference will focus on the role of gender in configurations of, and conflicts between, religion and secularism. We seek to promote reflection from a variety of disciplinary perspectives on the gendered dimensions of the religion-secular distinction, and the role of this formation in feminist, and other scholarly and public discourses, on gender/sexuality. As an international, cross-disciplinary conference, the papers are grounded in a broad range of approaches, including case studies as well as historical, theoretical, and normative treatments. Some of the central questions being explored include how and why do issues of gender/sexuality function as sites of conflict over the proper alignment of religion and the secular? How has the religion-secular distinction worked, implicitly and explicitly, to shape the study of gender/sexuality and the articulation of emancipatory goals? What are the implications for theory and practice? How has the figure of the oppressed woman in religious traditions been invoked in national and global politics? What forms of secular power and violence have been occluded through such tropes? What new insights, models, and metaphors are needed to rethink the intersections of religion, secularism, and gender in an increasingly pluralistic and interactive global environment?