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Post/secular truths: Sojourner Truth and the intersections of gender, race and religion

Smiet, K. (2014). “Post/secular truths: Sojourner Truth and the intersections of gender, race and religion.” European Journal of Women’s Studies.
The postsecular turn within feminist theory refers to a renewed attention to religion within feminist scholarship. However, rather than conceptualizing the postsecular as a new moment within feminist theorizing that breaks with a previous trend of secular feminism, this article stresses that it is important to recognize the long history of coexistence and contestations between religious and secular feminist approaches. In this article, the different reception histories of the story of Sojourner Truth are examined to elucidate and reflect on the complicated (historical) relationship of the religious and the secular within feminist scholarship. Three different types of feminist theoretical engagement with the story of Sojourner Truth are examined and contrasted: the implicitly secular use of the story of Sojourner Truth in black feminist scholarship and theorizing of intersectionality, the explicitly religious interpretations found in the work of feminist and womanist theologians, and the deconstructive reading by Donna Haraway. In discussing and comparing these different engagements with the story of Sojourner Truth, it is stressed that the boundaries between the religious and the secular are perhaps less clear-cut than initially imagined, and that a dialogue between secular and religious feminist approaches is very fruitful. The article closes by examining how the complex intersections of gender, religion and race in the story of Sojourner Truth can be connected to the contemporary theorizing on the racialization of religion within critical race scholarship.


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