Central and Eastern European Conferences


Confronting Gender Polarity and Nationalism

Interdisciplinary conference on Feminist Theologies, Religion and Sustainable Democracy in the Nordic Countries and Europe.

August 26, 2022, online

Conference theme

Europe and the Nordic countries are experiencing a reemergence of polarizing discourses. As this conference will critically discuss, the ideologies that fuel these discourses often reference conservative Christian or Neopagan faith traditions for legitimation, thus linking religion with the growing far-right movements. Central to the movements is a new acceptance for polarized and racialized gender discourse. Male supremacy and the patriarchal family are reclaimed as foundational to both church and nation, thus putting the rights of women, queer and non-white people under new pressure. New analytics have evolved where climate change is denied, populist conspiracy theories accepted, civic polarities endorsed, and Anti-Islam and Anti-Semitism are revived. The reentry of these 'new-old' discourses was made visible to the Norwegian and Nordic publics with the brutal July 22 terrorist attacks on Oslo and Utøya in 2011, which still represent a main case for comparative analysis. The desire for a new cultural war reaches from the US to Eastern Europe, and the war on Ukraine warns of its dangers. When core understandings and respect of human rights are challenged, so is sustainable democracy.

Due to a variety of unforeseen reasons it is impossible for the conference to take place on location in Oslo. Instead, the conference “Confronting Gender Polarity and Nationalism” will take place online on August 26th, via Zoom, with a shortened program and free of charge. All registrations made so far remain valid.

Online registration

The conference is open for registration.

Unfortunately, the time to register has already expired!

More about the conference theme and keynote lecturers

This conference welcomes a variety of theoretical and practical strategies to identify and critique the ideologies and practices that contribute to gender polarity and religious nationalism – both in the Nordic countries and comparatively in Europe and the USA. It also aims at providing collaborative, creative spaces to help envision new sustainable democratic practices and cultures, including within church and its associated form of ritualized life. The conference is open to the general public.

Conference aim

The conference aims to support Nordic, European and international scholars and practitioners and facilitate critical academic exchange, inter-religious networking, and transnational collaboration. It welcomes women, men, gender-variant and non-binary individuals involved in academic research in theology, religion, inter-religious relations, cultural and social sciences, and other relevant fields. Ministers, students, artists, independent researchers, and individuals employed by academic institutions are equally welcome.

The program

Friday, 26 August 2022, CET

  • 09:00-10:15 Welcome and Keynote 1:
    Cathrine Thorleifsson: Sacralising Supremacy: On far-right scapegoating in the age of mediated threats.
    Chair: Gertraud Ladner

  • 10:30-11:30 Keynote 2:
    Rita Perintfalvi: Antigenderism and neo-homophobic discourses on the horizons of right-wing populism and Christian religious fundamentalism. Warning signals from Hungary.
    Chair: Silke Petersen

  • 12:00-13:00 Keynote 3: Linn Tonstad: Gender Matters.-
    Chair: Christl Maier

  • Break

  • 15:00-17:00 Parallel Paper Sessions, details see below

  • 17:30-18:30 Keynote 4:
    Lovisa Mienna Sjøberg: Garvves mailbmi – A Complete World. Stories from Sapmi that tell us about responsibility in God's Creation.
    Chair: Halyna Teslyuk

  • 19:00-20:15: Keynote 5 and Farewell:
    Catherine Keller: Ecology of Intersections: Democratic Fragility, White Man's Christianity and Feminist Theology.
    Chair: Jone Salomonsen

  • 20:30 Open Meeting for ESWTR members
    Chair: Antonina Wozna

Language: English; interpretation for Spanish will be available.

  • 09:00-10:15 Welcome and Keynote 1
  • 10:30-11:30 Keynote 2
  • 11:45-12:45 Keynote 3
  • 14:00-14:45 Open meeting
  • 15:00-16:00 Keynote 4
  • 16:30-17:30 Keynote 5 (or 16:30-18:30 parallel paper sessions)
  • 19:30-21:00 Keynote 6 and Farewell


Catherine Keller (Professor of Constructive Theology, Drew University, USA):

*Ecology of Intersections: Democratic Fragility, White Man's Christianity and Feminist Theology.

Lovisa Mienna Sjøberg (Ass. Professor of Sami theology, Sámi University of Applied Sciences, Kautokeino, Norway):

*Garvves mailbmi – A Complete World. Stories from Sapmi that tell us about responsibility in God's Creation.


Cathrine Thorleifsson (PhD Social Anthropology, Post.Doc. Centre for Research on Extremism, University of Oslo):

*Sacralising Supremacy: On far-right scapegoating in the age of mediated threats.

Linn Tonstad (Ass. Professor of Theology, Religion and Sexuality, Yale University, USA):

*Gender Matters.

Rita Perintfalvi (Post.Doc. Hebrew Bible, University of Graz, Austria):

*Antigenderism and neo-homophobic discourses on the horizons of right-wing populism and Christian religious fundamentalism. Warning signals from Hungary.


Keynote abstracts

Catherine Keller:

Ecology of Intersections: Democratic Fragility, White Man's Christianity and Feminist Theology.

The US exceptionalism of the right, set on trumping democratic norms of sex/gender, racial and religious equality, threatens to become the rule - and not only in the US. Its economically secularized 'dominion theology' simultaneously wraps the earth's fate in anthropic exceptionalism. A politically sustainable democracy now depends upon efficacious solidarities of difficult difference, local in intensity, and planetary in perspective. Might a Black feminist "intersectionalism", amplified ecotheologically, strengthen the resistance and the alternative to every political exceptionalism?

Lovisa Mienna Sjøberg:

Gárvves máilbmi – A Complete World. Stories from Sápmi that tell us about responsibility in God's Creation.

In the Sámi tradition, there are many stories that teach us about responsibility in our relationship with the Creation and other-than-human beings. Many, if not all, of these stories have connections to Christianity and how Christianity is perceived and lived in Sámi contexts. This lecture will focus on human relationships with animals as they are presented in narratives about the primordial mothers of all animals. These and other similar stories are connected to our responsibilities as human beings. There are also stories about what will happen to Creation if we violate these relationships by not taking responsibility. Sámi stories about human-Creation relationships can also be connected to the massive environmental destruction in the wake of green colonialism in Sápmi today.


Cathrine Thorleifsson:

Sacralizing Supremacy: On far-right scapegoating in the age of mediated threats.

This talk examines how contemporary far-right parties and movements deploy religion to propagate authoritarian nationalism. Examining ways in which far-right actors in Europe and cyberspace mobilize, I suggest that religion is used as a resource to set the conditions for an interpretation of aggrieved nationhood that requires urgent heroic defense against perceived threats to status and reproduction. By sacralizing white supremacy and recycling century-old scapegoat motifs, far-right entrepreneurs present themselves as righteous defenders of a heteronormative moral order and nation endangered by liberal elites minoritized others.

Linn Tonstad:

Gender Matters.

Feminist attachments are fierce and contested. Among the most widespread of feminist attachments is attachment to contestation over the terrain of the term itself, especially to emphasizing its failures. More expansive definitions of feminism seem to follow each other with dizzying rapidity, based on feminism's apparently constitutive inability to deliver what it promises. Dismantling and reconstituting feminism is arguably the most central project feminism assigns itself. The inevitable failure of the project generates new grounds for struggle, both unexpected and familiar, as different contenders for the central object of feminism's attachments succeed each other. The contours of that central object are delineated less by presence than by absence—typically, though not always, identified as a subcategory of people that feminism is failing to recognize and serve appropriately. Such failures are potentially extensible indefinitely. Is there a way for feminists to break the habit of repetition in this regard? The incentives for doing so are few, but the potential rewards are great. Accepting the inevitable failure of feminism, not as an outcome but as a starting point, might allow for more creative and generative ways of dealing with its constitutive vulnerability to critique, allowing feminists to save their energies for the fight to better the situations of the women (and others) to whom feminism understands itself as responsible. A feminist theology of failure might be a helpful aid to this task, freeing feminists from defending themselves against each other as well as defanging attacks from outside that use such failures as alibis for rejection of the project itself.

Rita Perintfalvi:

Antigenderism and neo-homophobic discourses in the horizon of right-wing populism and Christian religious fundamentalism. Warning signals from Hungary.

In an identitarian democracy, there is no place for someone who happens to be "different" or "alien." While promoting homogeneity, this right-wing ideology obliterates any heterogeneity. LGBTIQ people in the crosshairs of aggressive right-wing populist and religious fundamentalist attacks and criticism. Alarm bells ringing in Hungary Right-wing populist conception of gender and corresponding societal models, which have now been enshrined in Hungary's constitution, are based on and justified with religious scriptural reasoning instead of factual political arguments. When these normalized gender identities become "cultural requirements for personhood" (Butler), LGBTIQ people are marginalized from society and deprived of their human dignity. Thus, a particular notion of gender identity is asserted as the precondition for legitimate and non-defective personhood. An enlightened theology has to reject such theistic-theocratic temptations in defense of constitutional, pluralist democracy and to protect the victimized against human rights abuses, violence, and injustice.

Parallel Paper Sessions

will be given in the language of the abstract.


Group 1: Rethinking sustainable democracy

·         Dorota Jewdokimow - "Feminine" anti-war poster in national and transnational dimensions. A semiotic analysis.

In the long history of the anti-war poster, I consider two important stages in its development.

The first of these refers to the times after the Second World War, when the Soviet anti-war propaganda poster of the Cold War era was of particular importance. Its proper significance should be read in the broader context of the activities of the state apparatus, whose visual representation - the poster - was to be and indeed became an important element in shaping the image of a peaceful and prosperous state. The poster art of the time introduced specific graphic solutions and shaped an iconography based on a specific repertoire of universal symbols. At the centre of this iconography is the image of a woman - a mother.

The second stage in the development of anti-war poster art, considered here, is the time of Russia's armed assault on Ukrainian territory. Anti-war poster art develops spontaneously at this time, and is only partially created by professionals. In most cases, we encounter amateur work by anti-war activists and war victims, mostly women. The woman ceases to be an object of visual representation and becomes an active subject, expressing her protest. The authors of the posters are Ukrainian and Russian women. The message of the latter, due to the criminalisation of the peace discourse within Russia, is often reduced to the minimum to communicate their views.

A semiotic analysis of the content of the anti-war poster at two different stages of its evolution, in two different historical contexts, will make it possible to identify the main directions of its development, as well as to reconstruct those components which are relatively permanent and independent of changing historical conditions. An important axis of the analysis of meanings will be the created, but also undermined, oppositions: masculine - feminine, national - supranational.

·         Heidi Jokinen - Individuals Having Their Say. What the Church can learn from Restorative Conflict Resolution.

Amidst the prevailing individualism, any single entity claiming the right to define the sole source of legitimate common life is put to question. This applies equally to many institutionalized churches that find their traditional authority challenged.

Nowadays individual members rather have their own say than be subjected to what the church says. This leads to complicated queries in many morally relevant questions, as people will not take what the church teaches and says.

This paper argues that there are fruitful ways of countering such dilemmas. To exemplify this, the  case of the debate on same-sex marriage within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Finland is used as an outset.

To put forward the claim, the paper then studies recent developments in the legal system that open for allowing individual voices to have their say in the process.

It is argued that while the church has been stumbling with contemporary ethical questions, such restorative justice is brought forward as a successful practice showing that it’s doable; queer theology is pointed out as a theoretical framework underlining that the potential exists even in theological thinking. 

·         Ulrike Auga - Migration, Sexual Violence and Agency: Clarifying Discourses on Religion, Gender and Nationalism

The “More Than One Million Pains” (2019) report shows that sexual violence against all migrants appears widespread along their route and that sexual victimization is often experienced several times. Since 2016, when sexual attacks were carried out against women in public places in several countries the media constructed racist and nationalist stereotypes of the vulnerability of ‘women’ in order to protect ‘our national collective’. The debates fall on fertile grounds in times of a worldwide shift to the right. After the terrorist attack of 9/11 (2001), there was another debate, asking whether Muslim migrants were per se ‘sexually conservative, fundamentalist, homophobic’ and ‘a threat to democracy’. However, refugee policies often favor heteronormative families and can be racist e.g. the contemporary treatment of Ukrainian migrants. Mainstream discourses pathologize migrant sexualities and ‘foreign’ regimes of LGBTIQ* oppression. The events indicate insufficient knowledge of sexual/gender-based violence and call for decisive scrutiny and acts of solidarity. The dominant ‘Western’ concept of democracy and freedom lacks the capacity of understanding multiple ways of subject formation, agency and human flourishing. After an analysis of different forms of violence from a gender/queer, postcolonial, and postsecular perspective some performative strategies for the undoing of ‘othering’ will be offered.


Group 2: Ecotheology and Sacred Stories for Changing Climate

·         Maria Bancila - The Eucharistic Ethos at Work in Man’s Relation to Nature: Two Oratorios Based on Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ Encyclical

The relatively recent endeavours of ecotheology stress man’s duty to act as a responsible steward, tasked with caring for the created world and protecting it. The statements offered by representatives of all Christian denominations – the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Pope Benedict, Pope Francis, Protestant theologians such as Trees van Montfoort – assert that ecotheology is more than a mere response to today’s ecological crisis, but an extension of the Eucharistic ethos in the believer’s relationship to nature, and make a compelling case against the abuse and destruction of creation, which constitutes a distortion of the spirit of the Christian gospel.

The message carried by Pope Francis’ 2015 Laudato Si’ encyclical, which arguably sums up the tenets of the theology of the environment, has been taken over by ecomusicological projects putting their own spin to it. My paper will address Peter Reulein’s Laudato Si’ Oratorio (2016) based on this encyclical, and Linda Chase’s Oratorio titled On Care for Our Common Home (2021).

Reulein’s libretto rephrases episodes in the sacred story of salvation (the Annunciation, Mary’s Magnificat, the Wedding at Cana, the Crucifixion) or echoes other texts such as St Francis’ Cantico delle Creature or Pope Francis’ exhortations in Evangelii Gaudium and Laudato Si’, while the feminine voices of the soloists carry special weight in proclaiming the ecotheological postulates. Linda Chase’s project, on the other hand, is still a work in progress, and out of the ten songs envisaged only three have been recorded so far, due to the ongoing pandemic which has upended recording plans. My paper will address the texts of these parts ("Creator Speaks in Languages of Trees," "Prayer for Our Common Home" and "The Joy of Our Hope", and their intertextual relation to the papal encyclical and their biblical sources, as texts that express the need for renewed awareness of our moral duty to exert responsible stewardship over God’s creation.

·         Mateusz Kucab - Epiphany, emancipation and Father-Nature? Ecocritical and postsecular readings of female poetry

            The aim of my paper is to present a comparative study of the poetry of Emily Dickinson, Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Halina Po?wiatowska as seen in a methodological perspective influenced by ecocriticism and postsecularism. It presents the women writers as modern negotiators of the formulas of subjectivity between both human and non-human nature and the unstable idea of divinity, absent God/god, divine lover or a vitalistic construct. The objectives of the present study are to define a new model of biosemiotics prescribing subjectivity of non-human nature and its meaning in textual and cultural discourse; to characterize poetical mechanisms deconstructing the religious narration and systemic theology based on the traditionally objectifying dichotomy: better-worse; to depict the encounter with nature as an instantaneous mutual act of recognition. The authors’ intersecting imageries (e.g. destabilization of taxonomy, filiation with a jealous God, deconstructing the religious language, epiphany and the subjectivity of natural detail) prove them to be modern seekers of a new story about a natural-divine-human community, far from the escapist orthodoxy, pantheism, and technological sciences. The research project has been prepared with reference to works by A. Bielik-Robson, M. Warchala, Ch. Taylor (the secular age and confuted hierarchy), J. Habermas, G. Vattimo, and G. Agamben as well as to ecocritical scholarship by L. Buell, A. Barcz, A. Jarzyna, and J. Fiedorczuk, T. Morton.

            The paper is a prime part of my PhD project devoted to searching for new possible female dictionaries of eco-theology. My main research areas are literature and philosophy, although I would like to cooperate with scholars from different fields to broaden the aspects of this research.

·         Trees van Montfoort - Ecofeminist Christology against Gender Polarity

Many eco-theologies with a protestant or evangelical bend focus on the male power of God and of Christ. “Christ is the Lord of the whole world”, “God owns the world” etc. The logos of the New Testament is translated as Word or even as Son, thus associating Christ with a male omnipotent creator who creates out of nothing by commanding from outside. The term stewardship often supports the idea of human control over nature. It fits all too well into an economic–technologic paradigm. It fits equally well into a hierarchical positioning of God above men, and men above creation. Thus, it legitimizes a worldview that co-created the ecological crisis.

I propose a revaluation of the dogma of the two natures of Christ. This dogma is a key for an ecological theology in the heart of church and belief. It enables us to deconstruct the hierarchical dualisms of God and the earth, spirit and matter, male and female. Therefore, I strongly support the use of the wisdom tradition of the Bible which entails texts that envision Jesus as incarnation of Lady Wisdom, and also the use of birth metaphors of creation texts.

·         Monica Ruset Oanca - The connection between women and nature in late medieval mystical theology

There is an interrelated oppression of women and nature, and this association has medieval roots in works like Alain de Lille’s The Complaint of nature (early 13th cent) where an elaborate vision of beautiful virgin “Lady Nature” is presented. While coming from heaven and wearing clothes decorated with all animals (including birds and fish), she is already suffering because of male actions.

Ever since Lynn White wrote his influential study on “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis” (1967), Christianity has been regarded as the religion which made the climate crisis happen, as, according to the Biblical account, man was given dominion oven nature. However, when mystical theology is considered, one can uncover the connection created spiritually between humans and their natural environment (be it desert or island), and how solitude in the midst of nature made it possible for people to listen to God’s voice. 

In this article I would like to show to what extend late medieval mystical theology promotes a close relationship between human and nature. I will focus especially on texts written by mystical women, like Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe or Catherine of Siena.


Group 3 a: Toxic Masculinities

·         Dace Balode - “It is something totally foreign”: Latvian pastors on changes of gender related values

The report will look at the public opinion of the pastors of the Latvian Lutheran Church in the media and in sermons on gender roles and national development. One of Latvia's conservative bastions are the Latvian churches shaping also public opinion. In 2016 the Latvian Evangelical Church made a visible sign with approval of the church constitution to exclude women from the right of ordination. Both this event and the issue of ratification of the Istanbul Convention also became a media event. Currently, there is a topical debate in Latvia regarding the definition of the family in the Latvian Constitution. Latvian pastors have also been particularly involved in this debate. The leaders of the church and its pastors have publicly expressed in the media the "danger” of changes in values" for Latvian society, specifically the some political movements, feminism, "neo-Marxism" and "genderism" were pointed out to represent these changes. The paper will analize sources of these statements and the connection with modern ideologies that go beyond the territory of Latvia. Attention will also be paid to the language, the concepts used to form the polarities, and the understanding of the national values. The pastors' sermons published in the newspaper Svetdienas Rits (Sunday Morning) will also be analyzed, which would help to understand the theological implications behind these statements concerning issues of national identity and gender.

·         Madalina Toader - Gender studies- a conceptual metamorphosis of feminism in Romanian culture

The idea of gender equality was and still is an exogenous concept in Romanian culture. Introduced and institutionalized, initially, by the communist ideology, after the Second World War, together with other utopian egalitarian principles, gender equality remains, to this day, a somewhat foreign concept in practice for the majority of the Romanian population. However, at the beginning of the 21st century, with the establishment of a liberal government and a renewed economic growth, the debate on gender equality has intensified.

This paper aims to analyze the phenomenon of gender equality and the Romanian feminist movement, starting with its first known manifestations until now, pointing out the important moments that shaped the current attitudes towards women in Romania. We will focus on the presentation of studies on the emancipation of women, which appeared before and after 1989, emphasizing the heyday of this ever-present phenomenon. We will review the organizations, unions, assemblies and / or associations of women, more numerous after 1900, which aimed to obtain civil, legal and political rights for women in Romania (the right to education and professions, the right to political representation, etc. .), as well as the movements, which intensified and expanded substantially over certain periods of time - for example between 1918-1923 (compared to the pre-war period).

Given that Romanian feminism has developed historically not only locally, but also in contact with international movements in the same register, we will approach the phenomenon on a higher level, by including Western feminist theories, whose concepts have been largely incorporated and adapted to the Romanian reality.

We will conclude the paper by arguing the relevance of gender studies and the role they can play in understanding the idea of gender equality and the phenomenon of feminism in our country, an understanding based on knowledge of the evolution and influences they have suffered over time.

·         Adela Muchova - Dissidents or Ministers? Gender Inequality and Catholic Ministry in Western and Eastern Europe

While recognizing a certain gender inequality and promoting women in catechesis and diakonia, the Catholic Church is still reluctant to allow women in ministerial positions. Moreover, the church practice—not the teaching—differs in Western and Eastern European countries. This paper, therefore, searches for reasons and cultural conditions: it asks for social, cultural and religious phenomena that constitute this difference. Building on discipline of practical theology it recognizes recent structural development, nevertheless it examines persisting dichotomy between theology and practice in Austria and Czechia. Its novelty is ensured by a comparative East/West approach, which allows for a critical assessment of two countries that differ in church practice.

By direct addressing gender inequality in church ministry this paper challenges, above all, contemporary church practice. Based on empirical data, this qualitative and interdisciplinary research uses both sociological (grounded theory methodology) and theological (practical and feminist) methods to confront existing practices in both countries. The goal is to explore possible ways in treating gender inequality in spiritual ministry—the results will propose new structural models for church transformation.

·         Karin Hügel - The Prostitution of Jewish Men and Boys

In antiquity, not only poor Jewish women and children but also poor Jewish men and boys could end up in hopeless situations of sexual exploitation of the power holders. The Halakhah contains a reference to the handling of prostitutes of the own people. If a Jewish man and a Jewish woman were sold into a brothel, the man should be redeemed first according to Mishnah Horayot 3:7. In the narrative in Tosefta Horayot 2:5-6, an encounter between a rabbi and a Jerusalemite child with beautiful eyes and good looks, destined for prostitution, is mentioned subsequent to Mishnah Horayot 3:7. Interestingly enough, the rabbi was willing to redeem it and had to pay a huge amount of money for it. This anecdote in the Tosefta Horayot 2:5-6 has been differently supplemented in later Jewish writings. Two different traditions based on Tosefta Horayot 2:5-6 exist. According the Palestinian Talmud Horayot 3:7,48b, Rabbi Yehoshua ben ?ananyah encounters a figure which alludes both to the biblical young David in the first Book of Samuel and the beloved in the Song of Songs. However, according to the Babylonian Talmud Gittin 58a and Lamentations Rabbah 4:4, this character refers to Rabbi Ishmael ben Elisha. Queer feminist questions are raised concerning these rabbinic traditions of the prostitution of Jewish men and boys.


Group 3 b: Toxic Masculinities

·         Kristin Merle - Language and Violence: On the Construction of Gender in Right-Wing Communication Contexts

Right-wing populism/-extremism and the religious right are closely linked. This can also be seen in the discussion about the involvement of the Protestant Church in Germany in sea rescue. The paper presents a study from Hamburg on hate speech: it analyzes interpretations of Christian topoi and practices of ideological actors in the context of prejudice-related communication. Such communication manifests itself in narratives or narrative fragments. It turns out that the narratives mainly work with the distinction "the familiar/the foreign", and that they amalgamate – besides a pronounced ‘antichurch position’ – anti-Islamism, anti-Semitism and anti-feminism with the "concern for one's own people" and the evocation of an "own German tradition" and the idea of an "’orthodox’ Christianity". What gender roles are being enacted here? And how is a gender-hierarchy constructed? The paper further asks: in which way can these connections between Christian semantics and populist/extremist speech be found in different communication contexts, and how do they change depending on the communication contexts? Finally, the paper attempts to look at the connection between language and violence from a gender-theoretical perspective and asks for the consequences for dealing with prejudice-related communication in church/theology and society.

·         Shabnam Daemi - Community of practice; Visual discourse in the online ‘traditional’ women’s community

Some Western Christian women in their early thirties and younger have, in recent years, expressed a desire to return to what they regard as traditional gender roles. This means that these women, who are mostly white and affluent, wish to be a housewife and mother, and not build a career. This desire to not have career results in friction in their geographical community. As a result, the women have constructed a community of practice online, which is built upon pan-Christian notions of womanhood and motherhood and oriented against feminism. This community of practice is on social media, like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. The visual discourse of this community can be explored through the concept of ‘Brand Visual Aesthetics (BVA)’. The message of this community regards notions of femininity and beauty as essential to fulfilling womanhood, and these notions are reflected in the several genres of imagines that construct the BVA. By studying this message, the desires and fears of this growing community can be explored and compared to alt-right politics and concepts, which will aid in determining if the community is part of the alt-right or not.

·         Silke Petersen - Dritte Geschlechter in antiken Texten

Der Kurzvortrag beschäftigt sich mit Texten aus dem frühen Christentum und der antiken Kultur, in denen Personen mit unklaren und / oder wandelbaren Geschlechtern auftreten, d.h. solche, deren Einordnung nicht in das übliche binäre System von Geschlechtszuschreibungen passt. Beispiele dafür sind etwa Maria Magdalena und andere Frauen, die „männlich“ werden (vgl. EvThom 114), Teiresias, der gleich zweimal sein Geschlecht wechselt, sowie Personen, bei denen die Geschlechter aufgehoben sind (vgl. Gal 3,28) oder die zwei Geschlechter gleichzeitig haben (vgl. den Mythos von den Kugelmenschen in Platos Symposium; EvThom 22). Weitere interessante Kategorien in diesem Zusammenhang sind die unterschiedlichen Eunuchen (vgl. Mt 19,12) oder die Kategorien „Androgynos“ und „Tumtum“ in rabbinischen Texten.

Es wird darum gehen, einen Überblick über die antike Geschlechtervielfalt zu gewinnen. Darauf aufbauend wird die Frage diskutiert, was solche Zuschreibungen für die antike und die moderne Diskussion um Gender beitragen können, also um eine Suchbewegung jenseits der Geschlechterbinaritäten, bzw. um „rethinking gender and religion“ zwischen Antike und Postmoderne.


Group 4: Ethnicities Redefined

·         Nev Reyes- Espiritu - Gender Matters in the Family: Confronting Gender Polarity in Transnational Families

This paper seeks to confront gender polarity as it is experienced in transnational families where the mothers are abroad and the fathers are left behind. On the one hand, gender identities ascribed to mothers and fathers by culture and religion can make the experience of transnational parents quite burdensome given the shifts in their roles and responsibilities brought about by the mothers’ migration. On the other hand, research into the experience of transnational families shows that mothers and fathers are adapting to the changes that come with the new familial configuration (Hoang and Yeoh 2011; Lam and Yeoh 2018; Peng and Wong 2016), transgressing normative ideas of feminine-mothers and masculine-fathers. Given the significance of faith and religion to how migrant women (Cruz 2006; Reyes-Espiritu 2022) and left-behind fathers (Apatinga and Obeng 2020) navigate transnational parenting and familyhood, it is necessary to investigate how Christian teachings and resources affect their lives. The objective is to critically assess how some Christian elements influence ideas and practices that may be oppressive of or unjust to certain members of transnational families. In response, alternative ideas drawn from the Christian tradition that can promote their flourishing are explored.

·         Zilka Siljak and Jadranka Rebeka Anic - Feminism and Religion School: interreligious challenge to secular-religious divide in the Balkans

After de-secularization and strengthening anti-feminism and its transformation into anti-gender movement, Western societies faced the challenges of gender equality and women’s human rights limitations. The three most influential faith communities in the Balkans region The Catholic Church, Serb Orthodox Church and the Islamic community designate the gender equality movement as a project that works against traditional values and family. The absence of genuine dialogue between secular and religious feminism also contributes to the rise of the anti-gender tendencies in this region.

In order to foster dialogue between religions, secular and religious feminists and feminist theory and activism two religious studies scholars from Cristian and Islamic traditions have decided to establish the first online school in the Balkans, “Feminism and Religion” (FER). The main aim of the FER school is to overcome the secular-religious divide and challenge the tradition of both secular and religious support of gender stereotypes.

In this lecture we will present the social, political and cultural context of the Balkans region regarding gender equality, main challenges women face in this region and the FER school as a positive example of constructive alternative practice that contribute to gender equality and interreligious understanding.

·         Justyna Czekajewska - The influence of gender on the physicians opinion on the conscience clause in Poland. The results of empirical research

The conscience clause, it means refusal to perform a health service that is contrary to the conscience of the service provider, is legally regulated in Poland and applies to representatives of selected medical professions. Physicians, nurses and midwives are legally allowed to use this rule in the face of situations that give rise to their personal moral objection and only when the service is not obligatory.

Taking into account the decision of the Constitutional Tribunal of November 22, 2020, the conscience clause has become a controversial topic for Polish society. The problem is access to embryopathological abortion, as the Constitutional Tribunal ruled that termination of pregnancy due to fetal defects is inconsistent with the Constitution of the Republic of Poland.

In my speech, I am going to present the results of my own research conducted among 100 Polish physicians at the Poznan University of Medical Sciences and their opinions about the conscience clause as a legal norm, explaining how the morality of women and men as physicians is shaped in the area indicated in the title of the work.


Group 5: Constructing Alternative Practices

·         Nadja Furlan Stante - Beyond Paternalistic and Patriarchal Conceptualization of Nature - Cohabitation with-in Nature and Digitality

This presentation explores the intersections that connect environmental concerns and ethical issues related to digital technologies from the perspective of theological ecofeminism.

Ecofeminism assumes that the oppression of women and the exploitation of nature stem from the same constellation of phenomena: patriarchal domination, dualistic anthropologies, and (today) global hypercapitalism. Ecofeminism experiences patriarchy as a conflictual system built on an exploitative hierarchical relationship that displaces equality, unity, and the interconnectedness of all living beings in the web of life. It sees creation as one body encompassing diverse ecosystems (Radford Ruether, Sally McFague). From this perspective, contrary to some recent ecofeminist theological interpretations (e.g., E. Graham, 2019 and J. Thweatt-Bates, 2012), the development of human-like AI and cyborgs could also be understood as products of global capitalism and a form of "power over" inextricably linked to the oppressive force of the patriarchal system. We will critically examine the philosophy of human-like AI from this perspective, asking whether the Strong AI programme and the pursuit of human-like AI robots depend on a mechanistic worldview that is largely responsible for domination and destruction. On the other hand, we will also consider that any biocentric view must take into account the fact that the technology of genetic engineering (and even the ancient technology of selective breeding) already contains elements of human agency or "interference" with nature. From this perspective we will rethink human entanglements with the-more-than-human natural world.

·         Ana Marija Raffai - Gewaltfreie Politiken: Utopie oder Chance

Nationalistische Politiken sind leider in der Region Westbalkan noch immer lebendig. Sie werden begleitet und unterstützt durch einen gewaltbeladenen Diskurs. Die gewalttaetige Sprache wird zur übliche/gewöhnliche Ausdrucksweise in den medialen Auseinandersetzungen mit den politischen Gegnern. Was bedeutet eine andere Politik, wie sollen gewaltfreien Politiken sich in dieser gewalttaetige Umgebung durchsetzen? Wir beobachten populistischen Proteste, die sich als friedlich verstehen. Was unterscheidet sie von den gewaltfreien Aktionen? Warum ist die höfliche Redeweise der aktuellen politischen Vertretern  doch nicht die gewaltfreie Kommunikation? Woran kann man es erkennen? Und wo sind die Moeglichkeiten der gewaltfreien Politiken?

Das unabhägnige Bildungswerkt „Gewaltfreie Politiken – Bildungswerk für die Friedensausbildung und Friedensaufbau“ aus Osijek/Kroatien hat sich mit diesen Fragen in seinem 50-seitigen Lesebuch „Gewaltfrei Politiken – Utopie oder Chance“ auseinandersetzt. Das Lesebuch entstand nachdem vor den lokalen Wahlen 2021 in Kroatien das Bildungswerk eine Umfrage unter die politisch engagierten Parteimitglieder und Vereinsmitglieder durchgeführt hat. Grundfrage der Umfrage war: wie versteht man gewaltfreies  politisches Handeln? Die Antworten der Miniforschung ergab die Grundausrichtung im Lesebuch. Die Erklärungen folgen die Hauptbemerkungen der Befragten wie z.B. dass die Gewaltfreiheit gewünscht aber die Gewalt erfolgreich ist.  Das Lesebuch versucht zu zeigen wie persönliche gewaltfreie Haltung in den politischen Strategien umgesetzt werden kann und auf welche Weise die aktuellen politischen Probleme dank der gewaltfreien Politiken auf den Weg der Lösungen gebracht werden könnten. Das Lesebuch ist in der Region Westbalkan eine der ersten Veröffentlichungen, die sich die Fragen der gewaltfreien Politiken stellt. Wie ein Teilneher unserer Werkstaette sagte, gewaltfreie Politiken sei ein Oximoron. Die Autorinnen des Lesebuches sind überzeugt, dass es auch eine Realität sind und noch mehr sein kann.

Im Lesebuch werden als Beispiele der gelungenen gewaltfreien Praxis das politische Wirken von zwei Politikerinnen, Jacinda Ardern und Margot Wallstrom dargestellt. Es wir auch der Begriff „feministische Aussenpolitik“ von M. Wallstrom erwaehnt. Zwei Politikerinnen sind absichtlich als Beispiel genommen um implizit zu signalisieren, dass feministische Ansaetze der  wichtige Teil von gewaltfreien Politiken sind.

Das Lesebuch wie auch das ganze Projekt „Gewaltfreie Politiken“ stellt den Anfang dar. Es ist ein wichtiger Schritt, um die Gewaltfreiheit als Haltung und Stragien bekannt zu machen. Denn aus unserer langjährigen Friedensarbeiterfahrung sind wir bewusst, dass sie in der Oeffentlichkeit noch immer wenig bekannt ist. Noch ungewöhnlicher ist es, die interpersonele gewaltfreie Kommunikation nicht nur im privaten haeuslichen Kontext zu praktizieren sondern auch sie in das politische Wirken einzubauen. Einige Hinweise was dazu hilfreich sein kann gibt das Lesebuch, das in diesem kurzen Vortrag vorgestellt wird.

·         Judit Gyarfas - Queer Wanderings: Presentation and Workshop

In my presentation, which I plan to be a prelude to a discussion space about different queer strategies in different local contexts, I will analyze and give specific examples of how T-Theologies (Althaus-Reid) function in my local context (in Hungary). I will raise the subject of challenging Totalitarian Theologies by alternative queer strategies and theologies.

Placing ourselves in the Exodus myth, and/or perhaps directly experiencing exilic times and places as women, and/or as religious, sexual, and ethnic minorities; there are certain practices, strategies, or ways of organization that can be useful to us from the Exodus narrative.  These strategies and practices can be plural, fluid, nomadic and only taking form in the procedure of wandering and instability.

In the workshop/discussion space that I propose after my presentation, we can explore our alternative local strategies and exchange our thoughts by wandering together.



The organizing committee

The conference is hosted by the Chair for Exegesis and Hermeneutics of the New Testament at the Theological Faculty of the University of Regensburg / Germany and the European Society of Women in Theological Research (ESWTR).

  • Judith König
  • Gertraud Ladner
  • Sofia Nikitaki
  • Jone Salomonsen

For the support with translations we thank: Magdalena Huerten, Montserrat Escribano-Cárcel, DeepL


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