Religion and Gender in Africa
DOI link for Religion and Gender in Africa
Religion and Gender in Africa book
This chapter explores the intersections between “religion” and “gender” in African contexts. Both concepts are controversial terms, as they are foreign to many societies, and in some languages there are no equivalents. Even in the academy they are definitional minefields, and any universal application of them is suspect. Because they are so contested, “religion” and “gender,” taken together, present a “volatile mixture” (Joy 2006, 7). To this problematic combination our chapter adds a third complicated ingredient: Africa. The first aim of this chapter is to review the various meanings of “gender” in contemporary scholarship and how its consideration shifted both the object of religious studies as well as the discipline’s analytical approach. Second, by doing gender critical readings of religious phenomena in Africa, the chapter demonstrates the kind of new insights that this approach yields. Among the themes reviewed here are gender flexibility in African indigenous religions; gender and power; female genital mutilation; veiling and gendered performance; and transforming masculinities in African religions. Overall, the chapter argues that “gender” is a rich and fascinating angle from which to study religion in Africa and vice versa.