Call for Chapter Proposals for Third Volume of Women in Religion Series


This series, Women in Religion, is an outgrowth of “1000 Women in Religion”—a project of the Women’s Caucus of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature. This project is part of an initiative to create, update, and improve the online biographical presence of the lives and contributions of cis- and transgender women who are notable as scholars, activists, and practitioners in the world’s religious, spiritual, and wisdom traditions. This series of biographical collections about women in religion explores and rethinks the various, and often biased, guidelines and principles that govern digital content creation about women.

Volume Description:

Volume three of this series, Uncovering women’s stories from the Parliament of the World’s Religions, seeks to increase the biographical coverage of women who are noteworthy participants in the Parliament, but whose geographical location, economic status and occupational priorities have obscured the noteworthy character of their lives and work. The under-representation of marginalized groups on digital platforms like Wikipedia, both as contributors, and in terms of content covered, has led to well-documented knowledge and gender gaps. These gaps have been fueled at least in part by Enlightenment-era definitions of knowledge that have privileged scientific rationalism, technology, print-centric notions of knowledge curation, and masculine achievement. Even today, a relatively privileged minority, lacking in diversity, continues to contribute the majority of the world’s digital content, which therefore does not represent the whole of human endeavor or experience. Addressing this systemic bias, so that digital platforms can indeed represent the summation of all human knowledge, requires that multiple forms of knowledge be incorporated, and that histories which may be oral, embodied and unpublished also be validated. This volume challenges the norms and practices that have protected the status quo, with analytical biographies that expand both our knowledge of significant women and our understanding of diverse knowledge-making practices.

 Call for Chapter Proposals:

First and foremost, this volume is a practical effort to increase access to secondary sources about women associated with the Parliament of the World’s Religions since its inception in 1893, and to address the knowledge equity issues and gender bias on digital platforms like Wikipedia, that are exacerbated by economic, social and religious biases. As such, we are seeking biographies about women who (1) have represented their religious and spiritual traditions as leaders, organizers and speakers at the Parliament of the World’s Religions, (2) are noteworthy as founders, practitioners, teachers, resistors and researchers of the world’s religious and wisdom traditions, and (3) do not have a biographical entry on Wikipedia.

Original research including attention to primary sources such as interviews of living subjects, oral histories, transcriptions of existing recordings and historical documents is encouraged. Authors are expected to address the volume’s theme throughout their biographical chapter. Proposals must make a strong connection between the original research about their biographical subject, and their analytical engagement with the issues of knowledge equity and gender parity. 

Appropriate chapters for the volume include biographies about women who were:

  • Important to the historical development of the Parliament of the World’s Religions
  • Leaders and organizers of the various Parliaments – working behind the scenes, on tasks forces, as board members and ambassadors
  • Participants in the Parliament as keynote speakers and lecturers, or women who have been associated with the Parliament in other ways.

Points to explore:

  • Defining (redefining) knowledge, knowledge equity and knowledge production
  • The relationship between knowledge equity and gender parity
  • How writing biographies can help us define, in practical ways, categories of knowledge and modes of knowledge production?
  • How research, writing and citation practices can obscure diverse forms of knowledge and/or make them identifiable and visible, and thereby promote knowledge equity?
  • The case for notability of women whose knowledge modes and expertise challenge (don’t align with) traditional norms
  • Promoting knowledge equity as a strategy for achieving gender parity on digital platforms
  • Biographical writing as a means of critiquing western definitions of knowledge
  • Biographical writing as a constructive project toward knowledge equity
  • How does/can biographical writing challenge racist, colonial, gender and class norms through an analysis of knowledge equity?

Submission Instructions:

Inquiries on this project and proposals for articles should be submitted electronically by March 12, 2021 to Proposals must include a 250-word abstract introducing the biographical subject and how she or they connect with the volume’s theme.

Accepted authors must submit completed manuscripts by January 14, 2022. Chapters should run approximately 6000 to 8000 words and conform to the Books@Atla Open Press Author Guidelines (see Step Two, Anticipated publication date is in October 2022.