Five new Research Associates will join the Women’s Studies in Religion Program at HDS to work on book-length projects during the 2020–21 academic year. By bringing together scholars from different disciplines and research areas, commonalities in religion and gender emerge.
While working on their projects, the WSRP Research Associates teach a one-semester course and deliver a lecture on their research.
2020-21 WSRP Research Associates and Visiting Faculty
Mariam Ayad (The American University in Cairo)
Visiting Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and Near Eastern Religions
A Gendered Analysis of an Egyptian Mortuary Ritual
This project explores the impact of class and gender on ancient Egyptian conceptions of death, revival, and the afterlife. By comparing two contemporaneous funerary corpora belonging to a high-ranking priestess and the man who served her, it assesses whether the Egyptians adopted gendered pathways to the afterlife.
Nyasha Junior (Temple University)
Visiting Associate Professor of Women's Studies and African-American Religions
The Resurrection of Jarena Lee
Jarena Lee was a Black Christian preacher who published her autobiography in 1836. Although she was denied ordination by the African Methodist Episcopal Church, she was posthumously ordained in 2016. This project is a biography and oral history that investigates the life and legacy of Jarena Lee within literary and religious communities.
Georgette Ledgister (Agnes Scott College)
Visiting Lecturer on Women's Studies and African Religions
Gods, Guns, and Girls: Gender, Agency, and Spirituality in a Congolese Rebel Movement
While most accounts of war treat women solely as victims of violence, this study focuses on a woman who rose to the highest ranks of the Mai-Mai Rebel movement in the Democratic Republic of Congo through a gender-defying engagement with ancestral power. The project positions African Religions in general, and Luba mystical warfare in particular, as resources for the safety and flourishing of women, providing an intellectual space to perceive practices of hope, gender freedom, and agency.
Nahid Siamdoust (Yale University)
Visiting Lecturer on Women’s Studies and Anthropology of Religion
Women Singing: The Regulation of Solo Female Vocals in Iran’s Hypermediated Public Sphere
Utilizing new media over the last 10 years, women singers have pushed against the ban on solo female vocals and established a presence for their voices online. This virtual sphere of activity has spilled over into the actual sphere, manifesting in frequent incursions on the ban in concerts and other public spaces. Part of a larger project, my research investigates whether processes occurring in Iran’s hypermediated public sphere can drive the Islamic Republic to redefine its rulings.
Meryl “Mimi” Winick (Virginia Commonwealth University)
Visiting Lecturer in Women’s Studies and Religion and Society
Ecstatic Inquiry: Women’s Writing on Religion in Britain, 1890–1930
This project recounts how the first generation of British women academics fashioned humanistic research into a spiritual practice. Rather than offering dispassionate histories of religion, these scholars presented their intellectual labor as extending—and revealing—a secret tradition of women’s intellectual and spiritual seeking.