Home Annual Meeting 2011 Annual Meeting News Plenary Speakers in San Francisco

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AAR President Kwok Pui Lan has created a plenary series on the topic of Empire and Religion. Each of her plenary speakers will address this larger topic from a particular disciplinary viewpoint with a focus on how research in globalization, postcolonial criticism, and gender and queer theories can inform our understanding about religion.

Trinh T. Minh-ha, University of California, Berkeley

The Intersection of Gender, Postcoloniality, Culture, and Religion
Saturday, 11:45 AM–12:45 PM

Trinh T. Minh-ha is a world-renowned independent filmmaker and feminist, postcolonial theorist. She teaches courses that focus on women’s work as related to cultural politics, postcoloniality, and contemporary critical theory and the arts. Trinh was born in Hanoi, and was brought up in South Vietnam during the American War. She studied piano and music composition at the National Conservatory of Music and Theater in Saigon. Trinh migrated to the United States in 1970, where she studied music composition, ethnomusicology, and French literature at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. There she received her MFA and PhD degrees. She has been teaching in the Gender and Women’s Studies Department at the University of California, Berkeley, since 1994 and in the Department of Rhetoric since 1997. Trinh has been making films for over twenty years and may be best known for her first film Reassemblage, made in 1982.

Kwok Pui Lan, Episcopal Divinity School

Presidential Address
Saturday, 8:00 PM–9:00 PM

Kwok Pui Lan is the William F. Cole Professor of Christian Theology and Spirituality at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An internationally known theologian, she received her doctorate from Harvard University and honorary doctorates from Kampen Theological University in the Netherlands and Uppsala University in Sweden. The author or editor of fifteen books in English and Chinese, Kwok’s publications include Postcolonial Imagination and Feminist Theology (Westminster John Knox Press, 2005), Introducing Asian Feminist Theology (Pilgrim Press, 2000), Discovering the Bible in the Non-Biblical World (Orbis Books, 1995), and Chinese Women and Christianity, 1860–1927 (Scholars Press, 1992). She is also an editor of the major reference work Women and Christianity (4 vols., Routledge, 2010). Kwok was the recipient of the Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2009 from the American Academy of Religion. A cofounder of the network Pacific, Asian, North American Asian Women in Theology and Ministry, Kwok has directed teaching workshops for Asian and Asian North American faculty.

Envisioning the Study of Religion in the Twenty-first Century

Sunday, 11:45 AM–12:45 PM

Laura Donaldson is a Professor of English and American Indian Studies at Cornell University. She received her doctorate from Emory University in 1983. She has served on the National Executive Board of the Committee on Women, Population, and the Environment, and as a Faculty Fellow for Cornell’s Akwe:kon House, the first university residence of its kind in the country purposely built to celebrate American Indian heritage. Donaldson’s 1992 book Decolonizing Feminisms: Race, Gender, and Empire-Building (University of North Carolina Press) presents new paradigms of interpretation that help to bring the often oppositional stances of First versus Third World and traditional versus postmodern feminism into a more constructive relationship. Donaldson is currently working on a new book titled American Samson: Haunting the Native-Christian Encounter.

Richard King studied philosophy and theology at Hull University before completing his PhD in religious studies at Lancaster University in 1993. He joined the University of Glasgow in 2010, after five years as professor of religious studies at Vanderbilt University. King is a historian of ideas by orientation with a concern to explore genealogical questions of power and representation in the study of Asian traditions. To be specific, his work seeks to examine ways in which South Asian “wisdom traditions” have become globally re-presented since the late colonial era by the “world religions” template and the role played in this by the emergence of the comparative study of religion as an academic enterprise in the West.

Donald S. Lopez Jr. is the Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at the University of Michigan, where he serves as chair of the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures and as Chair of the Michigan Society of Fellows. Lopez received his BA, MA, and PhD from the University of Virginia and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000. He is currently serving as editor of the Buddhism portion of the forthcoming Norton Anthology of World Religions. His most recent book is The Tibetan Book of the Dead: A Biography (Princeton University Press, 2011). His next book, A Short History of the Buddha, examines the history of the European encounter with the Buddha, especially in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Judith Butler, University of California, Berkeley

New Thoughts on Solidarity
Sunday, 8:00 PM–9:00 PM

Judith Butler is the Maxine Elliott professor in the Rhetoric and Comparative Literature departments at the University of California, Berkeley. Butler was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to a family of Hungarian and Russian ancestry. As a child and teenager, she attended both Hebrew school and special classes on Jewish ethics where she received her “first training in philosophy.” Butler received her PhD in philosophy from Yale University in 1984, for a dissertation subsequently published as Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth Century France (Columbia University Press, 1999). Her research ranges from literary theory, modern philosophical fiction, and feminist and sexuality studies to nineteenth and twentieth century European literature and philosophy, Kafka and loss, mourning and war. Her most recent work focuses on Jewish philosophy, exploring pre- and post-Zionist criticisms of state violence. In 2009 Butler received the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Distinguished Achievement Award for her contributions to humanistic inquiry.

Lifetime of Learning Lecture

Monday, 11:45 AM–12:45 PM

Judith Plaskow is professor of religious studies at Manhattan College. Her scholarly interests focus on contemporary religious thought with a specialization in feminist theology. Plaskow received a BA from Clark University and a MA and PhD from Yale University. Plaskow has lectured widely on feminist theology in the United States and Europe. She cofounded The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion and coedited it for its first ten years. She is also the author of three books, Sex, Sin, and Grace: Women’s Experience and the Theologies of Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich (Rowman and Littlefield, 2001), Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective (HarperCollins, 1991), and The Coming of Lilith: Essays on Feminism, Judaism, and Sexual Ethics 1972–2003 (Beacon, 2005). In addition, Plaskow has coedited three other volumes, Women and Religion (1973), Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in Religion (HarperCollins, 1979), and Weaving the Visions: New Patterns in Feminist Spirituality (HarperCollins, 1989). She is currently at work on a project on embodiment, elimination, and the role of toilets in struggles for social justice.

Katie Geneva Cannon is the Annie Scales Rogers professor of Christian ethics at Union Presbyterian Seminary. In 1983, Cannon became the first African-American woman to receive a PhD from Union Theological Seminary in New York. She was also the first African-American woman to be ordained in the United Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Cannon focuses her work in the areas of Christian ethics, Womanist theology, and women in religion and society. She has lectured nationally on theological and ethical topics and is the author or editor of numerous articles and seven books, including Katie’s Canon: Womanism and the Soul of the Black Community (Continuum, 1995) and Black Womanist Ethics (Wipf and Stick, 1988).


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