Second Aasta Hansteen Lecture on Gender and Religion: Women and the Gift: The 'Given' and the 'All-Giving'"

Professor Morny Joy from the University of Calgary, Canada will give the second annual Aasta Hansteen Lecture: "Women and the Gift: The 'Given' and the 'All-Giving'".

The annual lecture will be followed by an open seminar,with a prepared respons from postdoctoral fellow Thorgeir Kolshus, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo.

Lecture: Monday 27 August 2012 11:15-12:00, auditorium U40, Domus Theologica

Seminar: Moncay 27 August 2012 13:15-15:00, room U214, Domus Theologica

Preparatory documents:

About Professor Morny Joy

Morny Joy is University Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, University of Calgary. She has garnered an international reputation for her work in both philosophy of religion and women and religion. She has an extensive publication list, the most recent being: After Appropriation: Explorations in Intercultural Philosophy and Religion, ed. Morny Joy (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2011); Continental Philosophy and Philosophy of Religion, ed. Morny Joy. (Dordrecht: Springer, 2011); Divine Love: Luce Irigaray, Women, Gender and Religion; Series in Gender and Religion (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007); Religion in French Feminist Thought: Critical Essays, ed. with K. O’Grady and J. Poxon (New York: Routledge, 2003), and French Feminists on Religion: A Reader, ed. with K. O’Grady and J. Poxon (New York: Routledge: 2001).

Her most recent project is a two volume work on Women and the Gift with Indiana University Press. While these books examine the subject from anthropologivalphilosophical ad religious perspectives, they are also intended to help understand how women are today defining their roles and responding to the challenges of contemporary existence. These challenges include relationships of care, fidelity, generosity, and trust, and dependence/independence, such as the gift often evokes. The crucial question is how such issues can engage the hearts and intellects of women in this allegedly postmodern, postcolonial, and postfeminist age.

Morny Joy received an Honorary Doctorate in Theology for her work from the University of Helsinki in 2011. She is on the Executive of the International Association for the History of Religions and is a past President of the Canadian Association for the Study of Religions. Professor Joy has visited the University of Oslo on several occasions, and was one of the keynote speakers for the "Broken Women, Healing Traditions?" conference at the Faculty of Theology in 2010


About the annual Aasta Hansteen lecture

The Aasta Hansteen Lecture on Gender and Religion is an annual event at the Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo, inaugurated in September 2011 as part of celebrating 200 years of academic theology at the University of Oslo. The lecture series is named after Aasta Hansteen (1824-1908), an early Norwegian feminist and activist who had the courage to engage in critical discourse on gender, culture and theology to help promote women’s rights in Scandinavia and North America. In memory of Aasta Hansteen and her spiritual kin, an internationally distinguished scholar is annually invited to the Faculty of Theology to give a lecture and a seminar on seminal topics and theories in the inter-disciplinary academic fields of gender and religion, and feminist theology and philosophy.

The First Annual Aasta Hansteen Lecture on Gender and Religion, was delivered by Isabel Phiri, Professor of African Theology, University of Kwa-Zulu Natal: “Religious persecution of women: Experiences and feminist motivations for change", on Sept 20, 2011.

About Aasta Hansteen (1824-1908).

Hansteen was an early feminist lay theologian, painter and writer and a pioneer in the women’s suffrage movement in Norway. The daughter of Christoffer Hansteen, a prominent professor of astronomy and geophysics at the University of Oslo, Aasta Hansteen received her art education in Copenhagen and Düsseldorf. In 1850 she exhibited her works at the World’s Fair in Paris, and in 1862 she was the first woman to have a book published in “nynorsk” about Norwegian dialects and customs, Skrift og Umskrift i Landsmaalet. In 1878 she wrote Woman Created in the Image of God, based on her own self-arranged public lectures in the years 1876-78 in Oslo, Trondheim and Copenhagen. In this and future publications she fiercely opposed traditional theological views of women and critiqued Biblical authors for having denigrated women both spiritually and humanly by regarding her a second class person in rank and quality.

Hansteen’s self-appointed hermeneutical task was to reread crucial parts of the canon, sort out “rubbish” from its hidden “gold”, and promote women as equal in status to men by virtue of nature and God’s “true design”. Her arguments were in particular inspired by the works of the early American feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton and The Woman’s Bible project, and by John Stuart Mill’s influential Subjection of Women. Her overriding concern was female autonomy and female spirituality in confluence with defining and promoting a new moral/social order.

Being the first Norwegian woman to lecture in public and walk by herself (without a guardian) in male public space, Aasta Hansteen was ridiculed in intellectual and clerical circles as unwomanly, eccentric and deviating. After a scandal case in 1875, where she openly defended the moral worthiness of a named single mother up against the male medical student who had seduced her, the public mocking and stigmatization of Hansteen increased. In 1880 she immigrated to the USA to find intellectual refuge and new inspiration in the flourishing Women’s movements of Boston and Chicago. Nine years later she returned to Oslo with new optimism. Back home she joined the newly founded Norwegian Association for Women’s Rights and also introduced the North-American Sunflower Badge as symbol of women’s rights for “light and air” and spiritual-intellectual development.

American progressive thought left a deep mark on Aasta Hansteen. In the US, radical circles made few distinctions between reform in the social and spiritual domains. Suffrage feminism, anti-slavery and free religion movements often overlapped in terms of people, rhetoric and vision. Aasta Hansteen learned from this integrative practice, and in due course her writings and agitations yielded fruits also in Norway. Her lived experience became a token for what it takes to break new grounds. She was the role model for Henrik Ibsen’s emancipated female character Lone Hessel in his play “The Pillars of Society”. At the Nordic Women’s Convention in Oslo in July 1902, Hansteen was honored in the University Ceremonial Hall with the cantata “Nytaarsgry” (New Year’s Dawn) by Agathe Backer Grøndahl and Gina Krogh, before 350 women wearing the Sunflower Badge. Aasta Hansteen died in 1908 at 84 years of age.

Aasta Hansteen was a “first wave” feminist, and part of a long tradition of women’s rights movements in Norway. As a result, Norway was in 1913 the first sovereign state in the world to grant women full parliamentary rights. The priestly office of the Church of Norway, however, did not formally include women until 1938. The University of Oslo had in 1899 accepted Valborg Lerche for a full theological degree (cand. theol.). Yet the first female Lutheran priest, Ingrid Bjerkås, was not ordained until 1961. Today, twenty-five percent of Norwegian priests are women. Discrimination, however, is not a thing of the past but continues to take on new discursive forms and subtle shapes. The responsibility to disclose, understand and counter all sorts of discriminatory practices is not only a political task, or a problem of faith communities. It is a universal, moral task and therefore an obligation also for the academy. New knowledge, rigorous analysis and imaginative and relevant intellectual and theological reflection are still needed. The Annual Aasta Hansteen Lecture on Gender and Religion is a contribution to help enhance competence and performance in this particular field.

The Annual Aasta Hansteen Lecture is hosted by the Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo, in cooperation with the Faculty’s research group on gender/religion/theology and SIKOT, “Seminaret i kjønn og teologi”.

Publisert 30. jan. 2012 13:41 - Sist endret 25. sep. 2019 13:51