'Religion' and 'Feminism' are two concepts that have a complex relationship in the popular imaginary. But what do academics mean by these two concepts? And how can we study their interrelationship? What can we say about 'religion and feminism', about the academic study of 'religion and feminism', ...

About this episode

‘Religion’ and ‘Feminism’ are two concepts that have a complex relationship in the popular imaginary. But what do academics mean by these two concepts? And how can we study their interrelationship? What can we say about ‘religion and feminism’, about the academic study of ‘religion and feminism’, or about the ‘academic study of religion’ and feminism? To discuss these basic conceptual issues, and delve deeper into the topic, we are joined by a long-time friend of the RSP, Dr Dawn Llewellyn of the University of Chester. Along the way we discuss some of the basics of feminism and feminist theory, before thinking about how scholars can or should position themselves in relation to this broad topic, how we might conduct research, and how Dawn herself has done so. In the process we move beyond the problematic ‘wave’ metaphor, and think beyond ‘Christianity’ and ‘the West’ to ask what the study of religion can bring to the study of feminism, and what feminism can bring to the study of religion. This episode is the second of a series co-produced with introduction to the Sociology of Religion, with Professor Grace Davie. Listeners might also be interested in our previous interviews with Meredith McGuire, Marta Trzebiatowska, Anna Fedele, Mary Jo Neitz and Lizbeth Mikaelsson, and feature essays by Erika Salomon, Claire Miller Skriletz, and George Ioannides.

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The Interstices of Science and Religion

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Having exiled the supernatural, science finds itself left with the task of writing a modern genesis, or a liturgy for a secular age. Science and religion are not ancient concepts. What we think of as inherently scientific today may have carried theological overtones in times past; what we conceive of as religious may have likewise found support in scientific circles. Both categories have emerged through complex and contradictory histories:
Psychology and religious studies: Towards greater understanding

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Extensive research has been conducted by psychologists, and continues to be conducted, exploring beliefs, values and perceptions. However, despite being a central part of the lives of so many people, religion and spirituality continues to be a fringe concern for many psychologists - perhaps because they are frequently perceived as being unscientific.
But Mountains, Dammit!

Response

Are we to believe those mountains weren’t here before humans came to name them?! Mountains, dammit! They’re real and they’re mind-independent! (It’s at this point that the radical constructionists ask, “can you say that without discourse?” and then the realists really go apoplectic.) Titus Hjelm’s book Social Constructionisms: Approaches to the Study of the Human World is a fantastic introduction to the topic of “social constructionism.”

Responses to this episode

Editors’ Picks, Summer 2018: The Intersections of Religion and Feminism

In the second of our summer "Editors' Picks", Sammy Bishop flags up an important interview in which Dawn Llewellyn provides a great introduction to how feminism, religion, and the academic study of both, might (or indeed, might not) interact. Llewellyn also does an excellent job of flagging up how future work in these fields could become more productively interdisciplinary.

Troubling Essentialism: Studying Religion and Feminism

Secular feminist scholars would benefit from understanding ‘religion’ as a category without set boundaries, and from studying religion as 'lived' within fluid contexts.In her interview with the Religious Studies Project, Dawn Llewellyn gives a succinct and well-considered account of the ‘tricky relationship’ between feminism and religion. Tackling two such wide-ranging topics, their various definitions,

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