Feminist Encounters on Post-Secular Feminisms

The last decade has witnessed tectonic shifts not just in global leadership but also in global polity, the most significant one being the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan and the takeover of the government by the Taliban well known for their extreme, conservative, ultra-right-wing, anti-feminist ideology. Our lives have also been complicated by the advent of COVID-19 which has decimated populations all over the world. It is against this backdrop, that we are putting out a call for papers under the overarching theme of POST-SECULAR FEMINISMS.

Current debates on and theorisation of (post) secular feminism lack sustained discussions of the role of post-colonial women, whether they be from the countries on the African continent such as Egypt, Ghana, South Africa and others or from Asia, such as, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc.

The concept of post secular feminism has come to signify a renewed attention to the role of religion within secular, democratic public spheres. Central to the project of post secularism is the integration of religious ways of being within the public arena shared by others who may practice different faiths, practice the same faith in different ways or be non-religious in outlook.

Post secular theory critiques the secularising notion that religion has increasingly become a private issue. It does so by pointing out how religion has once again become paramount to public and political debate, central to which are the assertively voiced assessments of Muslims and Islam. In this scenario how does a young educated Muslim woman cope with conflicting ideas which have to do with her identity and her responsibilities in her household. Feminists like Carol Hanisch (2006, “The Personal is political” available at https//www.carolhanisch.org/CHwritings/PIP.html; accessed 20 October, 2021), have pointed out that the ‘personal is political’, an idea which is central to a feminist critique of Muslim women who have been found to be religious, conservative and antagonistic towards liberal politics. Nevertheless, Saba Mahmoud (2005) investigating religious networks of women in Egypt argues that ethics and teleology are central to their lives and that their agency lies in their intentions and not in embodying a liberal feminist ideology. Women of religious networks and nationalist movements attribute a great value to submission and to the ‘politics of piety’ (2005, /Politics of piety: The Islamic and revival and feminist subject,/ Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).

Queer theory also influences post-secular feminism. Queer theorists challenge notions of hetero-normativity which are state sponsored and focus on fault-lines in the religious and secular. Therefore it is possible to find a common ground between the two because both highlight instability in society and explore alternative modes of existence.

Scholars and activists state that the post secular turn in feminism is a return to conservatism and reduction or minimalisation of the individual consciousness and that embracing traditions of patriarchal faith cannot be a route to empowerment. Notwithstanding this idea, we believe that women can aspire for equal rights and a solidarity across community and nations and, feminism, as a project, can provide openings for women to lead meaningful lives. One of the ways by which women’s lives can become consequential is through faith and devotion.

The special issue of Feminist Encounters on Post Secular Feminism offers an opportunity to explore some of the ideas outlined above and is an attempt to articulate the confluence of religion and feminism in our contemporary times. Abstracts may be submitted on any topic related to this theme. These topics may include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Feminism and religion
  • Religious texts and feminism
  • Feminist Activism and religion
  • Crisis in secularism
  • Gender politics and religion
  • Nationalism, feminism and religion
  • Black Feminisms
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Gender in trans-national and multicultural contexts
  • Intersection of queer theory and religion.
  • Feminism and decoloniality
  • Ecocriticism and ecofeminism
  • The shifting boundaries of sexual identities and sexuality
  • Decoloniality and indigenous knowledge systems

Feminist Encounters invites submissions of articles of up to 9000 words on any aspect of gender in post secular feminism. These may be theoretical or empirically based. We welcome divergent feminist perspectives on post secular feminism.

The special issue will edited by Guest Editors: Prof Sarala Krishnamurthy (Professor of African Literature and Applied Linguistics, Department of Communication, Namibia University of Science and Technology, Namibia), Dr Christina Swart-Opperman (UCT Business School, University of Cape Town, South Africa) and Mrs Jeanne Hunter, (Department of Technical and Vocational Education, Namibia University of Science and Technology, Namibia).

Abstracts of 250 words and a short biographical note (not more than 100 words) should be sent to (skrishnamurthy /at/ nust.na) or (christina.swart-opperman /at/ uct.ac.za) or jhunter@ nust.na no later than *28 February, 2022 *in order to be considered.

We will notify you if your abstract is accepted, by 1 March 2022.

Full articles will be due 1 June 2022. Expected word length of full manuscript (including references) is 9,000 words, different word lengths to be negotiated with the editors. Images are welcome but must include relevant copyright permissions.

All articles must be submitted in the journal’s house style, details of which are to be found on the /Feminist Encounters/ website at Lectito.

Chief Editor of /Feminist Encounters/: Professor Sally R Munt, University of Sussex UK

Managing Editor of /Feminist Encounters/: Dr Rose Richards, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa