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Diversity and Intersectionality

Studies in Religion, Education and Values

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Jeff Astley and Leslie J. Francis

This volume brings together two core concepts that are central to understanding the social and public significance of religions and theologies within the contemporary world and are therefore of key importance to the discipline of religious education: diversity and intersectionality. Religious diversity requires an understanding of religions and theologies and their roles within a plural society. However, the effect of the intersectionality of multiple social identities on a person’s flourishing illuminates the ways in which the broader complexity of diversity must be viewed from different perspectives.

These core constructs were brought together in a recent conference convened by the International Seminar on Religious Education and Values, the leading international association for religious educators across the world. This volume presents twelve key contributions made to the seminar, spanning both conceptual and empirical approaches, and represents a unique collection of international perspectives on the interlocking themes of intersectionality and diversity.

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9 Women and Religion: Life Stories of Women Academics in Latvia

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ABSTRACT

Women’s lives are not only shaped by gender, but also by economic, political, cultural, and religious factors which overlap and intersect in complex ways. This chapter reveals plural intersections among religious, secular, and academic discourses in lives of five researchers from five universities in Latvia. The chapter explores what impacts intersectionality of religion, gender, and class brings in women’s lives and how relations of power are produced and transformed through this interaction in women’s lives and experiences. The study offers a deconstruction of binaries and normalizations, as well as offers a platform to address the concerns of women. In order to understand the complexity and multidimensional nature of oppression and injustice, the author uses narrative as a methodology for the analyses of women’s life stories. Intersectionality offers a theoretical perspective that is relevant to narrative research approaches as a means of accessing experiences as counter to dominant and discriminatory discourses for the purpose of transgression, and a deeper understanding of meaning making processes of lived experiences of women researchers. By unfolding women’s stories from a variety of cultural and religious backgrounds, the author deconstructs the practices of exclusion in women’s lives in order to allow new forms of wisdom to emerge. The study presents reflexive and critical feminist inquiry into women’s life experiences, where women’s oppression is conceptualized through a subjective and contextual lens by taking into account the complexity of historic, economic, religious, and cultural contexts.

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