We are pleased to invite proposals to our conference, “Paradoxes of Domesticity: Christian Missionaries and Women in Asia and the Pacific,” to be held on August 9-10, 2012 at Australian National University.
This is an interdisciplinary, inter-regional conference that focuses on the encounters between Christian missionaries and women in Asia and the Pacific with the aim of understanding the “paradoxes of domesticity” that emerged.
Research in women’s history has shown that the relationship between the domestic and public spheres has always been permeable and complex in practice despite rigid binaries set in the ideological opposition of the domestic as feminine and the public as masculine. The tensions become even more pronounced in the era of Western imperialism, when the transnational interactions between people, material goods, ideas and images developed at an unprecedented pace.
The engagement of Christian women missionaries with women in Asia and the Pacific was a central feature of these dynamic transnational encounters. Their encounters across the domains of religion, education and family sometimes reinforced and sometimes challenged what constituted the “domestic” in the age of the Western modern. Much research on the topic has privileged the perspectives of Western missionaries. However, relatively little research has been done from the viewpoint of the local people who accepted, resisted or appropriated the new religion and culture.
The central focus of this conference will be on the agency of Asian and Pacific women in linking their past religious, familial, and cultural practices with newly introduced “modern” Western ideals and practices. In doing so, the conference aims to reveal the relatively unknown histories of women in Asian and Pacific Christianities and show how intimately their histories were entangled with the diverse colonial and semicolonial contexts across Asia and the Pacific.
For more information, see Call for Papers: Paradoxes of Domesticity.