In preparation for the 30th anniversary of the JFSR, the editors issued a call for submissions on global feminisms “which address issues of globalization, religion, and feminist inquiry and practice across borders or which highlight feminist work in religion in particular cultural contexts beyond the U.S.” As we begin our fourth decade, we are pleased to be able to publish a Special Section on Global Feminisms, two interviews with German or German-born scholars, and a roundtable on Asian and Asian/North American theologies that looks critically at concepts such as globality and transnationality. The Journal’s transition three years ago to an on-line submission system has made it easier for scholars from around the world to submit their work, and the material in this issue is the fruit of our strong commitment to including more articles from outside the United States and more sustained reflection on issues of globalization from scholars in differing social and political contexts.
As we look forward to what we hope will be our next thirty years of feminist publishing, we find ourselves reaffirming certain established JFSR practices and rethinking others. We are gratified by the continuing strong interest in our annual Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza New Scholar Award contest which garners many entries each year. This issue contains articles by our 2014 winners, Aitemad Muhanna (“Women’s Moral Agency and the Politics of Religion in Gaza Strip”) and Christina Cedillo (“Habitual Gender: Rhetorical Androgyny in Franciscan Texts”). While normally, these essays would have appeared in the Fall 2014 issue, we held them for the Spring in order to include Muhanna’s article in the Special Section on Global Feminisms. In terms of new initiatives, we have decided to shorten and refocus the Editors’ Introduction. The fact that we include abstracts of articles—a practice we began eight years ago—makes it rather redundant to have an introduction that summarizes each issue and strains to find connections among the various contributions that may or may not exist. We will therefore use this space to share JFSR news and highlight some common themes in an issue and, on occasion, comment on their relationship to larger social and political events.
One of the striking connections in this issue, for example, is the way that, in the Special Section on Global Feminisms, Muhanna and Peshkova both use the lens of a single woman’s activism to raise broader questions about the nature of women’s agency and the interrelation between individual commitments and desires and larger social context. Although Mangililo’s piece in the same section comes out of a different scholarly field, it also uses the voice of one woman—in her case the biblical Rahab—to shed light on the situation of women in Indonesia. We also see significant overlaps between issues raised by the roundtable and the interview with Renate Rose. Joh and Kim’s discussion in their lead-in of the pervasiveness of violence in everyday life and the legacy of US militarism in Asia Pacific resonates with Rose’s critique of militarism and her life-long peace activism. The critical examination by several roundtable contributors of various ways that Asian Americans can become complicit with structures of domination relates to Rose’s consideration of her German identity and the obligations it generates and imposes.
At this moment of marking our thirty years with an emphasis on global feminisms, we are very aware of the multiple forms of violence occurring in our world in which issues of gender, religion, and state intersect and demand our ongoing analytical and activist concern. In the U.S. in 2014, the refusal of grand juries in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City to indict police officers who killed unarmed black men sparked protests that erupted all over the country, and that included groups calling for equal attention to unarmed black and brown women killed under similar circumstances.1 In many places in the world, the past year has been a time of intense gender-related violence and resistance to violence. Among other events, we think of the abduction of over two hundred schoolgirls by Boko Haram and the group’s massive slaughter of civilians; the endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestine (see the roundtable) (according to UNICEF, in 2014 up to fifteen million children were directly entangled in violent conflicts); and the use of rape as a tool of war and as a pervasive and ever-present threat against women. The glimmer of hope amidst these frightful and frightening developments has been the acts of resistance also visible across the globe: the marches, die-ins and other forms of protest in the United States that brought people together across gender, race, and class lines; the Nigerians from all walks of life staging daily “sit-outs” to demand the government “bring back our girls”; the refusal of Indian and Egyptian women to remain silent about pervasive sexual violence; and the many actions of Women in Black, a loose network of groups addressing war, militarism, and other forms of violence that began in Israel as a protest against the Occupation and has become worldwide. Our hope is that not just this issue but all issues of the JFSR contribute to an understanding of both the interlocking forces that engender domination and violence and possible strategies of resistance that can lead to genuine change.
1 See the work of African American Policy Forum, directed by black feminist legal theorist Kimberle Crenshaw: http://www.aapf.org/.
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