We are saddened to announce the transition of our dear friend and colleague of many decades, Professor Teresia Mbari Hinga. A Kenyan by birth, she studied religion and English literature at Kenyatta University, Nairobi, and then went on to earn an MA in religious studies at the University of Nairobi. Teresia also earned a Ph.D. in religious studies from Lancaster University, UK, focusing on African Christianity and the place of women and gender matters in African Christianity. Her postdoctoral research explored the question of “Women, Power and Liberation in the African Independent Church.”
Teresia was privileged to serve as a lecturer and associate fellow at the Women’s Studies in Religion Program (WSRP) at Harvard Divinity School from 1991 to 1992, during which she taught Professor Dianne Stewart who recently said that she considers Teresia to be one of her best teachers in graduate school. Teresia was a founding member of the “Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians,” a Pan-African association of women established by Professor Mercy Oduyoye. The Circle, in which Teresia played a major role, is concerned with the study of the role and impact of religion and culture on the lives and affairs of women in Africa. As a Catholic Theologian, she was also an active member of the Black Catholic Symposium of the American Academy of Religion. She has published numerous articles in academic journals and given many public lectures in the academy. For example, she gave the inaugural Kathleen Wicker endowed lecture at Scripps College in February 2006. Teresia was the first regional coordinator of the African Association for the Study of Religions (AASR) in the 1990s when I served as the first president of the Association.
Prior to joining Santa Clara University faculty in 2005, where she taught courses on women and religion, feminist theologies, African Religion and sociality, religion and contemporary moral issues, she worked at DePaul University in Chicago. Among her awards, she published African, Christian, and Feminist: The Enduring Search of What Matters (2017), a semi-biographical collection of essays examining Teresia’s journey from Kenya to Silicon Valley. She also published Women, Religion and HIV AIDS in Africa: Responding to Ethical and Theological Challenges (2008). Her research interests also include environmental/ ecological ethics, gender and sexual ethics, globalization, Biblical ethics, and African feminist theology.
Teresia will be remembered as a conscientious, hardworking, and affectionate scholar who gave her best to the academy, her students, and humanity. She was generous with her time and resources, a strong and indeed compassionate public intellectual. She will be sorely missed by friends and colleagues, but most especially by her two children Pauline and Anthony, her grandchildren, the Church, and the Kenyan and African community.
Respectfully submitted, Jacob K. Olupona, Harvard University
July 26 and 27
Topic: “Religion in Times of Crises”
Call for Papers
What is the impact of a crisis on religion and spirituality? The coronavirus pandemic has drastically impacted religion in Africa and the world. In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic. Since then, social distancing, vaccines, lockdown, virtual meetings, work from home, and face masks have entered into the global vocabulary. They are also increasingly deployed in religious communities and for the study of religion. The current pandemic has very multidimensional and serious effects on religion and spirituality.
In Zimbabwe, many “Muslims were content with their exclusion from the major Muslim shrines”. “Historical knowledge of previous cancellations and public health perceptions helped Muslims appreciate the multiple cancellations of pilgrimages to the holy shrines.” (Dube, 2022:208) For Christian Pentecostalism J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu states: “There has not been a monolithic response to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic among African Pentecostal/Charismatic figures.” (Asamoah-Gyadu, 2021:172) Reflecting on the influenza pandemic of 1918, this present crisis has transformed into an opportunity for spiritual awakening and for innovations in doctrines and theological instruction for some African-initiated churches (Fagunwa, 2020:61.52).
This year’s AASR conference will focus on religion in times of the COVID-19 crises. It will explore the challenges for, and transformations of, religion in the current pandemic and beyond that. Its broad themes are: Doing religion during COVID-19; Studying religion during COVID; Religion and society during COVID; and Religion in a post-COVID-19 society. We invite proposals for formal papers and poster presentations that reflect on the following questions, among others:
- How does the conceptualization of religion change in times of crisis?
- Which methodological innovations and approaches have emerged from studying religion during COVID-19?
- How are educational curricula and teaching as well as learning methods affected?
- How do religious communities handle the challenges of social justice, health care and calamity?
- What is the role of religion in defining a pandemic and formulating coping strategies?
- How are religious values and imaginations consulted and their meaning emphasized?
- To what extent do religious-inspired responses to a pandemic affect vulnerable groups of people (e.g. women, children, old people) disproportionately? Has the crisis aggravated their vulnerability?
- What are the effects on religion, culture, economy and politics, and how have those interacted in times of crisis?
- Are there positive aspects in the realm of crises? What are they?
Submission Information: Please submit any paper and poster presentation proposals for the virtual conference by April 1, 2022. Proposals should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Proposals should be approximately 300 words in length. Please include your name, institution, and email address in each proposal.
AASR member Prof Gerrie ter Haar has recently published a book on Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo titled Black Minds Matter – Archbishop Milingo and the Vatican.
“Black Minds Matter tells the story of one of the most outspoken clerics of Africa, Emmanuel Milingo, who was Archbishop of Lusaka from 1969 to 1983. Milingo became widely known for his healing ministry, which was rooted in African spiritual ideas. This brought him into years of conflict with the dominant powers in the Catholic Church, and eventually led to his excommunication in 2006…” (from https://www.ascleiden.nl/news/black-minds-matter-archbishop-milingo-and-vatican, where you can find further information).
We congratulate Prof Gerrie ter Haar for this new book.
Update: Leiden University has made Black Minds Matter freely available online at the moment, visit https://scholarlypublications.universiteitleiden.nl/handle/1887/3244218
Join AASR member Adriaan van Klinken on his inaugural professorial lecture titled “Reimagining Christianity and Sexual Diversity in Africa” at the Leeds University Centre for African Studies (LUCAS) and the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science (PRHS) on Thursday 28 October, 4:30pm.
Adriaan is Professor of Religion and African Studies at the University of Leeds, and Extraordinary Professor at the University of the Western Cape (South Africa), in the Desmond Tutu Centre for Religion and Social Justice. At Leeds, he is Director of both the Centre for Religion and Public Life and the Leeds University Centre for African Studies. His prolific research is predominantly focused on the intersection of religion, gender, and sexuality in contemporary African settings.