Temenos lecture 2019

Professor Melissa M. Wilcox, University of California, Riverside:

Theory in the Interstices: Queering and Transing Religious Studies, Religioning Trans and Queer Studies

Thursday 19 September 2019, 18.00-19.30

Aud. Armfelt, Arken, Åbo Akademi University (Fabriksgatan 2)

Melissa M. Wilcox received her doctorate in Religious Studies from U.C. Santa Barbara in 2000. Her transdisciplinary research program focuses on queer and transgender studies in religion, with particular emphasis on the U.S. in the context of transnational queer and religious politics.

Religious studies, queer studies, and transgender studies have long kept their distance from each other for reasons ranging from benign neglect and ignorance to active hostility. Yet scholars working in the interstices between these fields have spent decades developing gay and lesbian studies in religion and queer studies in religion. Strassfeld (2018) has argued for transing the study of religion, and transgender studies in religion is experiencing marked growth partly in response to his call. Nevertheless, although queer and transgender studies in religion are gaining increasing acceptance in religious studies, scholars outside of these subfields still generally consider them inessential to the field as a whole, and many continue either to ignore queer and trans topics and perspectives or to address them solely in the most limited of terms. 

Queer and trans studies, for their part, largely still ignore or actively dismiss religion, addressing the topic only in simplistic ways that would make any religionist cringe. How, then, are those of us who live in these interstitial spaces, cringing at the infelicities of all three fields, to demonstrate the richness of the intellectual soil in this space not just for ourselves but for the larger fields? This talk will argue for the critical necessity of developing theory from the interstices between religious studies, queer studies, and trans studies – a task already begun by such scholars as Janet Jakobsen, Ann Pellegrini, Jasbir Puar, Ashon Crawley, Max Strassfeld, Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley, and Yannik Thiem – and will suggest specific areas in which such theoretical work has especial potential to alter queer theory, trans and gender theory, and religious studies theory as a whole.


The Temenos lecture 2019 is part of the Queer Shepherds conference 19-20 September (http://associationreligionandgender.com/queer-shepherds-2019/). The lecture is open to all and free of charge, but registration is required. Please register no later than August 30th at https://survey.abo.fi/lomakkeet/11728/lomake.html and write ”Temenos lecture” in the last message field if you participate only in this part of the conference program.

The Temenos lecture is followed by the opening of a photo exhibition which consists of photos by Sonja Siikanen and photos from the God Love Pride exhibition by Ilar Gunilla Persson. Food and wine will be served. Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/2813987535320171/