CCSCE Annual Conference 'Religion, social commitment, and female agency'

CCSCE Annual Conference 'Religion, social commitment, and female agency'

Vom - Bis
31.05.2021 - 03.06.2021
Kristien Suenens, KADOC, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Online Conference (31 May-3 June 2021).

CCSCE Annual Conference 'Religion, social commitment, and female agency'

Research on the interaction between religion, social commitment, and female agency has long been neglected. Theories about a general secularisation in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Europe and about religion as an exclusively suppressive factor in women’s history were the dominant historiographical themes. In recent decades, however, scholars have explored new perspectives on this fascinating but ambiguous relationship. Moving away from an all too exclusive focus on the direct relationship between women, religion, and (political) emancipation, several more indirect and implicit channels of female agency, resilience, and self-realisation have been revealed. They were often embedded within the boundaries of traditional religious structures, but were not necessarily aligned with the restrictions of traditional gender stereotypes. This conference wishes to foster the historical debate on nineteenth- and twentieth-century religiously inspired female agency in Europe within the specific yet diverse context of social commitment to subaltern groups. The focus will be on care provisions for vulnerable, marginalised, and indigent people (prostitutes, 'fallen' women and girls, migrants, indigent and elderly people, the mentally ill…), initiated and managed by women from different social and religious backgrounds (lay or clerically organised congregations, sisterhoods, deaconesses…).

For the program of the conference and free registration, please visit the CCSCE-website.


DAY 1 - MON. 31.05.21 14.00-18.30 CET

Kim Christiaens (KADOC-KU Leuven - President CCSCE)

Merve Reyhan Kayikci (KU Leuven)
Muslim women volunteering: Committing to Society is Committing to God.

15.30 Session I. Care, empowerment and social justice. Religiously inspired female agency in a contemporary perspective.

15.40 Introduction
Chair: Kim Christiaens (KADOC-KU Leuven)

15.50 Josep Almudever Chanza (University of Edinburgh)
Plotting care: women’s devotional cartographies in contemporary

16.10 Ruth Vida Amwe (Princeton Theological Seminary)
“Womanhood on the Streets”: Nigerian Women at the Crossroads of Religion and Social Justice.

16.30 Tuevo Laitila, Nina Maskulin & Pekka Metso (University of Eastern Finland/ University of Helsinki)
Lay ascetism of urban women: Empowerment and gender-based Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition.

16.50 BREAK

17.20 Discussion

DAY 2 - TUE. 01.06.21 - 14.00-17.30 CET
Session II. ‘The lady and the poor’: commitment, empowerment and perception (19th-20th centuries).

14.00 Introduction
Chair: Florian Bock (Ruhr-Universität Bochum)

14.10 Karina Bénazech Wendling (École Pratique des Hautes Études Paris)
Experiencing the power of change? Evangelical women agency in the Irish mission field, 1800 – 1869.

14.30 Hannah Fluit (Universiteit Antwerpen/KU Leuven)
Gender and Catholic poor relief. Women and the Society of Saint
Vincent de Paul in Belgium, 1845-1945.


15.00 Dominika Gruziel (European University Institute)
The Mary’s Children and civilizational uplifting of the deprived.
The case study of the Polish Sodalities of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

15.20 Doreen Blake (University of Vienna)
Female charitable work in the Catholic Women’s Press in Austria

15.40 BREAK

16.10 Discussion
DAY 3 - WED. 02.06.21 - 14.00- 17.30 CET
Session III. Female religious and subalternity (19th -20th centuries).

14.00 Introduction
Chair: Magaly Rodriguez (KU Leuven)

14.10 Maria Heidegger (University of Innsbruck)
“[…] more powerful than the straitjacket…”. Medical activities of Catholic women’s orders in the psychiatric landscape of Tyrol in the 19th century.

14.30 Kristien Suenens (KADOC-KU Leuven)
‘The wise and the foolish’. Female religious and female inmates in Belgian prisons (19th-20th centuries).


15.00 Jo Luyten (KADOC-KU Leuven)
‘Oeuvre de la Rehabilitation’. The Refuge of Saine-Marie Madeleine in Brussels (1827-1922).

15.20 Eileen Groth Lyon (State University of New York)
Christian Feminism and Social Commitment: Margaret Slachta and the Sisters of Social Service.

15.40 BREAK

16.10 Discussion
DAY 4 - THU. 03.06.21 -15.00- 18.00 CET

Session IV. Catholic religious and gender identities in a time of change (post-World War II).

14.00 Introduction
Chair: Peter Heyrman (KADOC-KU Leuven)

14.10 Flora Derounian (University of Sussex)
Working or Calling? Oral histories of Italian nuns’ social work.

14.30 Nora Lehner (University of Vienna)
The Caritas Socialis and their care provisions for girls and women in occupied, post-war Vienna (1945-1955).


15.00 Carmen Mangion (Birkbeck, University of London)
Catholic Internationalism, Women Religious and the Leeds Peru Mission.

15.20 Ana Jelnikar (Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts)
Walking out of step: Marija Sreš and her missionary work amongst
tribal women in India.

15.40 Discussion

16.30 BREAK

17.00 Conclusions and publication concept
Magaly Rodriguez and Kristien Suenens (KADOC-KU Leuven)