Symposium: Changing Men in African Christianity

On 13 January 2011, the Centre IIMO (Utrecht University), with ICCO, Prisma and Kerk in Actie, had organized a one-day seminar on the theme ‘Changing Men, Transforming Masculinities: Practices, Perspectives, Resources. Seminar on the Transformation of Masculinities in African Christianity’.
As a result of the HIV epidemic, concepts of masculinity in sub-Saharan Africa have become problematised and are contested. Dominant versions of masculinity in African cultures and societies are often associated with the spread of HIV and with gender-based violence. Against this background, UNAIDS has underlined the need for active masculinity politics: ‘Given the urgency of curbing HIV rates … it is important to challenge harmful concepts of masculinity, including the way adult men look on risk and sexuality and how boys are socialized to become men.’
The intersections of religion and masculinities are complex: on the one hand, religion is often considered a factor that sustains or reinforces problematic notions of masculinity, while on the other hand religion is considered a resource and instrument to change men and to transform masculinities. This seminar explored the constructive role of religion in the transformation of masculinities, particularly focusing on Christianity and Christian theology in sub-Saharan Africa.
The seminar was held at the occasion of the conclusion of the research project Religion, Masculinities and HIV, co-funded by ICCO, Prisma, Kerk in Actie and Utrecht University. At the symposium, the major findings of the research were presented, discussed, evaluated and explored.
The speakers were Dr Adriaan van Klinken (Centre IIMO, Utrecht University), Dr Fulata L. Moyo
(Women in Church and Society, World Council of Churches) and Prof. Ezra Chitando (University of Zimbabwe & EHAIA). Dr Nyambura Njoroge (EHAIA) provided a response to the papers. The seminar was chaired by Prof. Martha Frederiks from the Centre IIMO, Utrecht University.
The various presentations gave rise to questions and discussions during this well-attended seminar. The report of the meeting can be found through this link. See also the videos of the presentations of myself and Fulata Moyo, and the response of Nyambura Njoroge.

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