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Ordinary Theologies

Religio-spirituality and the Leadership of Black Female Principals


Arnold Noelle Witherspoon

Through narrative analysis, Ordinary Theologies highlights the intersectionality of gender, race, and religio-spirituality. It examines the relationship of past and current religio-spiritual leadership understandings that contest the status quo in U.S. schools. The historicity and analysis of gender and race contributes to reconceptualizing educational and leadership by emphasizing the voices of Black female leaders, voices that provide alternative understandings of schooling, stressing the importance of gendered and raced voices in administration, and questioning formulaic models of leadership and the research that reifies them.
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Chapter 2 Womanist Theology as Methodology and Method


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Chapter 2

Womanist Theology as Methodology and Method

There is something about African American culture that compels oral history and narration.

(Cone, 1997, p. 6)

It is not customary to include an entire chapter devoted to methodology in a work such as this. However, I wanted to highlight the crucial nature of womanist theology to this undertaking. Theology in this context is not homogenous because of the varied ways in which people interpret or validate their experiences (Frederick, 2003).

In my quest to give voice to the principals in this study, I employed narrative analysis that sought to deconstruct quantification by exploring meaning (Vaz, 1997). Narrative inquiry and narrative analysis of lives have gained popularity in recent years. Narratives often take the form of first-person accounts. Other genres of “stories of experience” (Merriam, 2002, p. 286) include life history, oral history, life narrative, and autobiography. Professional practice in educational leadership tends to silence certain narratives regardless of what these narratives could teach us. Narrative research commands particular and historical significance for expanding and transforming knowledge about Black women (Vaz, 1997). Martin (1998) states:

The interweaving of Black women’s religious, biblical, theological, and sociopolitical thought and reflection as it often emerges in autobiography, biography, and other narrative forms, documents processes.... wherein one can ← 41 | 42 → chart the evolution of the Afro or Afra-American self evolving from the more “private” citizen to the more “public”...leader. (p....

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