Gender in Land-Based Theology

AUTHOR(S)
Matt Tomlinson
Culture

In Fijian Methodist discourse, the vanua (land and people) is often characterised as the foundation of the traditional order and all it entails. Indigenous theologians attend to the vanuain novel ways, especially as it is paired in a half-complementary, half-oppositional way to Christianity. The question of whether the vanua might be understood in gendered terms highlights a gap between theoretically universal values and practically patriarchal norms. In this article, I discuss several innovative thinkers on this subject: (1) women in the ‘Weavers’ theological collective; (2) the Methodist theologian and former church President Ilaitia Sevati Tuwere; and (3) a female Methodist minister, Tima, whom I interviewed in 2009. I focus especially on Tuwere’s description of the ‘feminine face’ of the vanua and Tima’s continual and wrenching conflict with the church’s male-dominated hierarchy. Whereas Tuwere uses a quasi-feminist Christian theology to reconcile Christianity and the vanua in terms of gender, Tima implies that her experiences of conflict with older men demonstrate how Christianity and the vanua might not be fully reconcilable.

Research Type(s)
Journal Article
Submitted by Toksave
March 25, 2021
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