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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.
Final deadline for registration: July 28, 2022
onlineRegistration

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.
  • 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.
  • 12:00-13:00 Keynote 3: Linn Tonstad: Gender Matters.
  • Break
  • 15:00-17:00 Parallel Paper Sessions
  • 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.
  • 19:00-20:15: Keynote 5 and Farewell: Catherine Keller: Ecology of Intersections: Democratic Fragility, White Man's Christianity and Feminist Theology.
  • 20:30 Open Meeting for ESWTR members

Language: English; depending on the number of participants we will try to organise simultaneous translations for German and Spanish.

CREDITS_HERE
  • 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

Keynotes

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 announced soon.

 

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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