This workshop on feminist theology was primarily run for women theological students and women in theology from all over India. The workshop was run from 7th to 12th June, 2015 at Village Retreat, East Coast Road, Chennai. 30 Participants from various states in India attended the workshop.
The workshop began with and from the life stories/experiences of the participants ourselves. Using our own selves and our stories as the material for our theologizing we then went on to analyse how the structures that we live in throughout our lives are all pyramidical structures with women and other oppressed groups mostly inhabiting the bottom rungs. We analysed the ethos of systems of theological education in India and recognized that they are still steeped in hierarchy and patriarchy and underpinned by kyriarchal thinking. We also analysed the different forms of education and acknowledged that theological education too, although it has exceptions, by and large, was still following the banking method. We heard and spoke with pain and hope that although theological education ethos was still not women-friendly, for most of us, it was still the spaces where we came into our own as women who learnt to resist and claim agency for ourselves.
Together we studied the story of Rizpah from the Old Testament and realized that even in the most oppressive and disenfranchised state, we can always still claim our agency in some form. Resistance and agency were the watchwords that most of us took back from this workshop as tools for our “self” empowerment. The bonds formed in this workshop among the group of thirty women was cemented by the fact that we lived together for the week, had fun together even as we learnt from each other and cried with each other. We hope this workshop widens our network of women theologians and women in theology in India.
Day 1: # Introducing Ourselves & Learning from our Stories: Activities and presentations from each
# Synthesis from our stories
# Situating our Social Location, Intersecting Oppressions through an alternative framework of analysis
# Need for a Deeper framework for analysis: beyond descriptive narrtion to transformative action
# Situating Theological Education (TE) in India within Models of Education
– Group disucussions
– Reporting from Group discussions
– Synthesis of discussion
– Questions to understand the story
– Questions for Critical Feminist Theological analysis of the story
– Understanding the story theologically/ Grounding it in our realities & contexts
– The “aha” moments!
Day 4: # Understanding the Critical Feminist theological Framework of Analysis: Group work & discussions
# Pyramid Analysis
# Pointing out the Dance steps in the Dance for Critical Feminist Theology of Liberation and Transformation.
# Closing Ritual: Praying with the Body