Women and the Burden of Preserving “Traditional Values”
The next meeting of the Gender, Sex, Religion and Politics seminar, scheduled for this Friday (Nov. 19), will feature Diane Winston of USC and Lara (Katie) Schubert of Claremont Graduate University. Wilson’s paper, “The Angel of Broadway: Transformative Dynamics Among Religion, Media, Gender, and Commodification,” explores how the American media used and transformed images of women active in the Salvation Army (who were known as lassies). Schubert’s paper, “Chbap Srey—Considering Gender Roles in Cambodia,” seeks to understand how Cambodian women regard the country’s traditional, Buddhist-inspired code of conduct (chbap srey) for women.
In reading these papers together, my first reaction is that they are both concerned with the role that gender and sexuality play in popular (often national) discourse about traditional morals and customs, especially when a society is experiencing acute modernization and globalization. As Winston points out, “For most world religions, the female body is a contested site” (1). Women’s bodies and social roles also become sites of contestation during the processes of modernization and globalization, a point that has been made by many postcolonial scholars, such as Partha Chatterjee (see “The Nation and Its Women” and “Women and the Nation” in his The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories, Princeton UP, 1993). I wonder, then, if we might use the seminar to tease out the relationships between and among notions of “tradition” or traditional morals, nation, religion, modernity (and/or global capitalism), and gender. To what extent are “tradition” and religion interchangeable in these case studies, and to what extent do they stand in opposition to one another?
Read the whole post at Interdisciplinary Research Group Blog.