Transforming Masculinities in African Christianity is now published!

Transforming Masculinities in African ChristianityMy book Transforming Masculinities in African Christianity: Gender Controversies in Times of AIDS is now published and released by Ashgate. The book is a major outcome of my research project “Religion, Masculinities and HIV/AIDS: Perspectives from African Christianity”, on which I have been working for the past five years.

Where studies of gender in African Christianity have usually focused on women, this book draws attention to men and constructions of masculinity. This is particularly important in light of the HIV epidemic which has given rise to a critical investigation of dominant forms of masculinity. These are often associated with the spread of HIV, gender-based violence and oppression of women. Against this background men have been targetted for a change, both by secular organisations such as UNAIDS, by faith-based organisations and in religious communities in Africa.

Exploring the complexity and ambiguity of religious gender discourses in contemporary African contexts, this book critically examines the ways in which some progressive African theologians, and a Catholic parish and a Pentecostal church in Zambia, work on a “transformation of masculinities”.

The book consists of six chapters:

  1. Intersecting Masculinities, Religion and AIDS: An Introduction
  2. Transforming Masculinities towards Gender Justice:  African Theologians
  3. Shaping Responsible Family Men: Masculinities in a Catholic Parish
  4. Promoting ‘Biblical manhood’:  Masculinities in a Pentecostal Church
  5. Comparing the Trajectories and Theologies to Transform Masculinities
  6. Understanding Transformations of Masculinity:  Patriarchy, Male Agency and Gender Justice

The book has received some warm recommendations by leading scholars in the field:

Birgit Meyer, professor of Religious Studies at Utrecht University (Netherlands): “Drawing on rich empirical material, Van Klinken offers a valuable insight into the complex issue of masculinity politics in contemporary African Christian contexts. A successful synthesis of a theological and anthropological approach, this is a fascinating book that explores new grounds in the study of Christianity in Africa.”

Sarojini Nadar, professor of Religion and Gender at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa): “Van Klinken lucidly charts a shift from the ‘bad man’ rhetoric that characterises masculinity discourses, instead portraying the complexities of masculinities and how they are being transformed and can transform in the face of the enormous challenges that the HIV pandemic poses. The book makes a significant contribution to the growing body of literature on masculinities. A must-read for all scholars interested in gender and masculinities.”

Björn Krondorfer, professor of Religious Studies at Northern Arizona University (USA): “This is a thorough comparative study of African Christianities in the midst of the AIDS calamity. A contribution both to global Christianities and to gender discourse as they intersect with religious obligations, Van Klinken anchors his analysis of African patriarchy in a methodological move he calls ‘theological ethnography’ and makes us attentive to the subtleties of the transformation of masculinities in local contexts. The incremental transformation of men toward responsible agency is presented as a move toward the fulfilment of an eschatological vision of gender justice.”

Robert Schreiter, Vatican Council II professor of Catholic Theology at Catholic Theological Union (USA): “This is an important study that throws new light on several fields at once: how Christianity is perceived concretely in sub-Saharan Africa, how different masculinities are being constructed and contested in that same region, and how both of these have an impact on combating HIV/AIDS there. Van Klinken’s contribution breaks new ground not only for African and religious studies, but is suggestive also of how religion and gender constructions might be transformed elsewhere as well.”

Please check this webpage for more information and to order a copy!

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