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Reading: Displacements: Religion, Gender, and the Catachrestic Demands of Postcoloniality


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Displacements: Religion, Gender, and the Catachrestic Demands of Postcoloniality


Sîan Melvill Hawthorne

SOAS, University of London, GB
About Sîan
Lecturer, Critical Theory and the Study of Religions
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In this paper I examine the uneasy intersection between ‘religion’, ‘gender’ and ‘postcoloniality’ as it is staged in the sub-field of religion and gender within religious studies and theology. Noting the lack of sustained attention in this field to those postcolonial challenges that might question the prioritization of gender as the site from which critique should be originated, and suggesting that this neglect might compromise the assumption that, because of its alignment with the politics of the marginal, it is comparatively less implicated in colonial knowledge formations, I argue that scholars of religion and gender risk perpetuating imperialist figurations found elsewhere in the academic study of religions. I propose the figure of the catachresis, as theorized by Gayatri Spivak, as a potential step towards displacing those European concept-metaphors and value-codings that both derive from imperialist ideologies and sustain the fiction operational within much, though not all, religion and gender scholarship of a generalizable or normative epistemic subjectivity. I suggest these ideologies ultimately prevent an encounter with the women and men who exist beyond this mode of production and whose priorities may be configured entirely differently to those that seem currently to inform and produce the intellectual itineraries of the field.

How to Cite: Hawthorne, S.M., (2013). Displacements: Religion, Gender, and the Catachrestic Demands of Postcoloniality. Religion and Gender. 3(2), pp.168–187. DOI:
Published on 02 Aug 2013.
Peer Reviewed


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