Gender in Global Medieval Mysticism 2019 Conference
Abstr. due: 01.10.2019
Dates: 20.03.20 — 21.03.20
Organizing comittee e-mail: email@example.com
Organizers: Ashoka University
The French theorist Luce Irigaray has called mysticism “the only place in the history of the West in which woman speaks and acts so publicly.” This capacity of mysticism to disrupt gender norms and established hierarchies -- theological and political -- by giving women a public voice extends across geographic regions. In a wide array of religious traditions-- Judaism, Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam--pre-modern women established private relationships with the divine. In doing so, they evaded patriarchal spiritual monopolies and laid claim to their own spiritual authority. Mysticism, a spiritual experience often associated with the private and the intimate, thus emerges as a gendered political mode.
While medieval women’s mystical visions differ widely across time, space and religious tradition, we also find striking points of convergence in the ways that women mystic exemplars translate their experience of intimacy with the divine. Early twentieth-century scholarship accounted for such commonalities by presuming a single mystical experience. However, this kind of comparativism has largely been rejected.
Given these shifting grounds in comparative studies of mysticism, this conference asks: What are the points of intersection that emerge within studies of mysticism at the site of gender? What kind of dialogues can be forged within and across spiritual traditions, particularly between Europe and South Asia? How might inquiries into gender and mysticism open up political dimensions of mysticism that are often subsumed within the private, and how might they inform us about the entanglement of the public and private within the frameworks of pre-modern gender in the past as well as today?
This conference invites investigations of gender and mysticism in the medieval period that focus on either South Asia or Europe or take a comparative approach. Topics might include the following:
Theory and mysticism
Men speaking as women in mystical writings
Gender, Politics, and Mysticism
Mystic scribes and spiritual authority
Mysticism & place
Mystical authority and political power
Queer phenomenology and mysticism
Mysticism and the body
Gender and South Asian Sufi-bhakti traditions
Gender, material culture, and mysticism
Mysticism and the vernacular
Gender, planetary emergency, and mysticism