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Decolonizing Public Space
A challenge of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's and Gayatri Ch. Spivak's Concepts of Resistance, 'Religion' and 'Gender'

Wed, 26 Feb, 2014 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM

Ulrike Auga

About the Lecture

This lecture focuses on conceptions of subject formation, resistance and underlines the surprising ways in which agency and human flourishing emerge in counter discourses. As examples serve a queer postcolonial critique of Rosa Parks and Fayza in the film Cairo 678.

Occupy Wall Street protesters pitch their tents to underline that neoliberalism along neo-colonialism, nationalism, racism, sexism and homophobia have reached a new pique of violence for which theology needs corresponding answers. If the notion of "occupation" might indicate violent resemblances, it can be extended with the concept of "decolonizing public space" which however underlines that we need a sustainable shift towards a solidaric society with radical democracy and hence a radical theology.

To project such a theology the lecture utilizes two icons of resistance theory, the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the postcolonial scholar Gayatri Ch. Spivak. At the same time it questions their notions of religion and gender as well as resistance and representation. 

With poststructuralist philosophy‚ ‘gender,’ ‘race,’ ‘class,’ ‘nation,’ ‘ability,’ etc. are analyzed as categories of knowledge. In this intersectional approach  the category ‘religion’ is often left behind or an essentialized notion of religion is assumed even if with the postsecular turn religion has been understood as central to the public sphere.

Spivak's critique of capitalism, the postcolonial condition and epistemic violence in terms of gender constructions is seminal. However, her understanding of "religion" remains ambivalent, yet influences postcolonial theologies tremendously.

Bonhoeffer is interesting for a dessentialized understanding of religion in a postsecular context, because he keeps the tension between a secularized world, engagement for the world and the appreciation of religious knowledge. Even though, his notions of gender and his understanding of representation require further analysis.

About Dr. Ulrike Auga

Professor Dr. Ulrike Auga, is the Dietrich-Bonhoeffer-Visiting-Professor at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York for the fall semester 2013/14. She holds the chair for Theology and Gender Studies at the Department of Religious Studies, Intercultural Theology and Ecumenics at the Faculty of Theology at Humboldt-University to Berlin. Ulrike Auga was born in East-Berlin and educated as a Protestant theologian in the light of the peaceful revolution in East Germany and was later trained as a cultural theory and gender scholar in Berlin, Geneva and at Cambridge (UK). After that she lived and worked for many years in Johannesburg, Bamako, and Jerusalem. 

Her interests are at the crossing points of an epistemological critique of religion and revised political and liberation theologies with cultural, gender, queer, postcolonial and post-secular theory, e.g.: religion, biopower/biopolitics, (epistemic) violence, resistance, agency and human flourishing, social imaginary in counter discourses to the neoliberal Empire, political contemporary transition contexts, new social movements; postcolonial critique of the intellectual. 

Selected publications:

Auga, Ulrike, "Imagine the Future! A Critical Transreligious Bio-Theology of ‘the 99 Percent’", Feminist Theology, (SAGE Publ.) September 2013 vol. 22 no. 1 20-37.

Auga, Ulrike, et al. (Eds.), Fundamentalism and Gender: Scripture - Body - Community, Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2013.

Auga, Ulrike, Theory of Religion as a Theory of Knowledge. Investigations in Religion and Gender; New York: Palgrave, 2014. (forthcoming).


Location: Stewart Room
Union Theological Seminary
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