Emilie Townes

Emilie Townes's picture

Professor Townes’s teaching and general research interests focus on Christian ethics, womanist ethics, critical social theory, cultural theory and studies, as well as on postmodernism and social postmodernism. Her specific interests include health and health care; the cultural production of evil; analyzing the linkages among race, gender, class, and other forms of oppression; and developing a network between African American and Afro-Brazilian religious and secular leaders and community-based organizations. Among her many publications are Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil, In a Blaze of Glory: Womanist Spirituality as Social Witness and Breaking the Fine Rain of Death: African American Health and a Womanist Ethic of Care; . Prior to her appointment at Vanderbilt as dean and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society, Professor Townes was the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology at Yale Divinity School and the Carolyn Beaird Professor of Christian Ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York. She served as president of the American Academy of Religion in 2008 and is the current president of the Society for the Study of Black Religion (2013-2016). Professor Townes is an ordained American Baptist clergywoman.

Recent Posts by Author

“And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.  And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing. More >
The streets of one of our cities have erupted in violent rioting in response to another death of a young Black man at the hands of the local police force.  This time, the city is Baltimore and the death was due to a spinal cord injury while in police custody.  We are caught, all of us, in what seems like a senseless spiral of violence begetting violence begetting violence.  We are caught because the anger that erupts is not due to only a current event, but due to decades of inequities in many of our cities.  In this case, there are two Baltimores—one that is gentrified More >
Rape.  The total loss of control over one’s body.  Violence. Humiliation.  Lack of consent.  Abuse.  Despoliation.  Violation. More >
Dungeons can be in our minds where we hold people captive to the illusions we have about them, but we think they are real, they are true, they are valid, and they sanction our treatment of them. . More >
The third event that changed my attitude [of moving from the realm of privacy to my involvement in the peace movement] was my study of the prophets of ancient Israel, a study on which I worked for several years until its publication in 1962. From them I learned the niggardliness of our moral comprehension, the incapacity to sense the depth of misery caused by our own failures. More >