Category: Gender Issues


Maureen Fitzgerald on Irish Nuns and Welfare

Irish immigration during the 1840s and afterwards had an important effect on the cultural, economic, and political history of the United States. Prof. Maureen Fitzgerald (College of William & Marry) discusses how Irish nuns worked with poor immigrants and the effect they had on transforming New York’s welfare system over the course of the 19th and early 20th century. This seldom told story illuminates the important role women religious played in advocating for women, children, and families during a period of rapid change in American society.

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John Inazu on the Four Freedoms, Religious Liberty, and Assembly

Prof. John Inazu of Washington University Law School (St. Louis) explains how four of the main freedoms contained in the US Constitution’s First Amendment are interrelated and how a series of court cases during the latter half of the 20th century has boiled down these separate, but related, freedoms into a single free speech dimension. Our primary focus is on the relationship between the free expression clause and the freedom of assembly, though other issues come into play. We review important court cases from Roberts v Jaycees to Hosanna-Tabor.

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Carrie Miles on Religion, Gender, and Missionaries

What role does religion play in shaping cultural notions of gender, and how might this be related to economics and production in both agricultural and industrial societies? And can missionaries inadvertently carry over theological messages to cultures that unintentionally reinforce gender roles? Dr. Carrie Miles, of Chapman University and Empower International, answers these questions in a fascinating look at the intersection of theology, gender, and economics.

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Rebecca Shah on Religion & the Enterprising Poor in India

Rebecca Shah of Georgetown University’s Berkley Center discusses her research on how religious belief and practice affects the economic prospects of the enterprising poor in India. We review the particular challenges facing women entrepreneurs in the poorest neighborhoods of Bangalore, the role that different types of loans play on their financial success (or lack thereof), and how their faith interacts with microfinancing to help improve their lot. The important role of tithing and rituals are highlighted.

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Alessandra González on Islamic Feminism

Does the term “Islamic Feminism” sound counter-intuitive? Dr. Alessandra González explores how women in Kuwait are finding ways to empower themselves and advocate for their interests in an environment where political Islam (or Islamism) is resurgent. She contrasts notions of Islamic feminism with how feminism is perceived in the West and reveals a number of fascinating insights on gender roles in a Muslim society. Changes in educational opportunities and changing perceptions among younger generations play a role in promoting this movement, as well as the surprising impact of Iraq’s invation of Kuwait in 1990. We also talk about the important role of conforming to traditional community norms and how men might actually be helping facilitate the struggle for women’s rights and empowerment.

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