With the poststructuralist turn, gender, race, class, nation, ability and so on are analysed as constructed categories. In the intersectional approach (Kimberley Crenshaw) the category “religion” is often neglected or an essentialised notion of religion is assumed. Tomuko Masuzawa underlined the constructed character of religion, which this book develops further. Saba Mahmood’s focus lies on the conceptions of the subject, resistance and agency in women’s movements in the Islamic world. For her, religion generates resistance and agency. However, she challenges the “Western” – Foucauldian and Butlerian – definitions of resistance.
This chapter underlines the surprising ways in which subject formation, agency and human flourishing emerge in counter discourses. As examples serve a postcolonial critique of Rosa Parks in the U.S.A. and Fayza in the film Cairo 678.
Economic and epistemic violence of neoliberalism, neo-colonialism, racism, fundamentalism, nationalism, classism, sexism, homophobia and so on call for a critique of religion with corresponding answers. For such a project, the analysis brings together the resistance Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the postcolonial scholar Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and questions their notions of religion and gender as well as resistance and representation.
Spivak’s critique of capitalism, the postcolonial condition and epistemic violence in terms of gender, cultural and national constructions is seminal. However, her understanding of “religion” remains ambivalent, yet influences postcolonial thought and postcolonial theologies tremendously. The chapter honours the work of Spivak but shows her prejudices and essentialisations and “othering” of the notion of religion.
Bonhoeffer is interesting for a dessentialised understanding of religion in a post-secular context, because he keeps the tension amongst a secularised world, engagement for the world and the appreciation of religious knowledge. His final perspective on gender and representation might be more advanced than expected. In the light of a denaturalised understanding of religion Bonhoeffers “Church for the Others” could be reanimated as a “Theology with the 99 percent”.?