Tag Archive: ethnic identity


mujerista theology

I am currently reading “Mujerista Theology: A Challenge to Traditional Theology” by Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz and am struck by the way Isasi-Diaz uses Latina words and concepts to describe the theology and methodology of Latina women; the role this plays in identity and belonging of the group and in grounding the words and praxis of Latina theologians in a cultural context.

Here’s an excerpt:

…Lo cotidiano for us is also a way of understanding theology, our attempt to explain how we understand the divine, what we know about the divine. I contrast this to the academic and churchly attempts to see theology as being about God instead of about what we humans know about God. Lo cotidiano makes it possible for us to see our theological knowledge as well as all our knowledge as fragmentary, partisan, conjectural, and provisional.  It is fragmentary because we know that what we will know tomorrow is not the same as what we know today but will stand in relation to what we know today.  What we know is what we have found through our experiences, through the experiences of our communities of struggle. What we know is always partisan, it is always influenced by our own values, prejudices, loyalties, emotions, traditions, dreams, and future projects.  Our knowing is conjectural because to know is not to copy or reflect reality but rather to interpret in a creative way those relations, structures, and processes that are elements of what is called reality. And, finally, lo cotidiano, makes it clear that, for mujerista theology, knowledge is provisional for it indicates in and of itself how transitory our world and we ourselves are.

Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz, Doing Mujerista Theology pp71-72.

 

As a Pakeha/Ngai Tahu woman living as a visitor on the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nations – how do my cultural identity and location within place inform my writing, thinking and theology? And the language that I use to communicate my ideas?

In my experience, most books of theology loaned or recommended to me have come from a predominantly North American or northern hemisphere context. There is a disconnection and displacement in that which feels rarely spoken of or acknowledged, for instance when the symbolism, art and exegesis are located in a different hemisphere but used in ours – an easy example is noting such times like Easter (darkness) and Christmas (cold).

Acknowledging of course, all those women of colour and woke women who are and do use language and cultural context in their theological exegesis, for those who aren’t using ‘local’ language in our theological discernment and writing, what are we offering that is specific to our personal and geographic context?  Is this language lack linked to the disconnection from our cultural tale?

We cannot tell a story we do not know.

How do the ideas of Kaupapa Maori or Mana Wahine, or unresolved Australian identity politics and influences of policies such as Terra Nullius, already influence and inform my thinking, theology and writing in conscious and unconscious ways?

I think there might be an idea that our writing is more professional, academic or more universally relevant if these “personal” elements are left out, but are we still looking to our euro-centric, patriarchal forebears to tell us what to do and how to do it rather than finding God here, on this country, and speaking to that? What are words and ideas we could be drawing on that shape and inform our feminist praxis and writing based out of the Pacific?

Tell me, and show me, what can the South Pacific theology offer to the North?

That is the book I want to read.

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Ethnic church:

  • challenges for the younger generation
  • parents history
  • ethnic culture and values
  • links to culture and religion
  • evangelism and discipleship approach – believe need to be saved rather than a gracious understanding of faith and relationship with God
  • parents acculturation response
  • younger generation’s experiences with culture, identity and belonging

What was/is your experience of ethnic church or the first time you experienced being it as ‘different’?

~ Confucius quotes ~ learning memory verses ~ emphasis on listening to your elders (honour your mother and father) ~ formal dress = not refugees, we will dress well to reflect our new status ~ a successful look synonymous with a Western look ~ In India we would dress nicely for church but here in Australia no, I’m daggy when I go back! ~ 

Berry’s Acculturation Model

In transition between old culture to new people will typically have one of 4 main responses:


Marginalisation {not identifying with the host culture}

Assimilation {absorbed into the new culture}

Integration {previous culture maintained and participate in the new culture}

Separation {previous culture maintained and new culture rejected}


This is frequently a zero-sum game – how do we forge new opportunities?

When did you first experience race?

~ moving from one country to another: Philippines to India, then to Oz ~ excursion protocol – don’t know what’s happening (have to learn) ~ sports team – they wouldn’t pass the ball to me ~ not around coloured people until Uni, grew up in a white neighbourhood ~ First day of Year 1, got asked: “Where are you from?” …I was born in this town, I’d never had a sense of being from somewhere else! ~ Broke up with my boyfriend and got called “Ching chong” and told to “go back to where you came from” ~

What is race?

  1. Arbitrary system of classification
  2. Hierarchal system (superior and inferior)
  3. Naturalise and make the system the norm, make invisible the effects e.g. denial of rights, wealth and resource distribution

Transmission of these ideas about race occur in representation and are reiterated until ‘race’ becomes  realities. eg. if pen (object) and writing (concept) communicated through language – the pen (signifier) therefore the meaning becomes attached to the object.

Media perpetuates these myths/representations e.g Vietnamese community treating international students badly that work in their restaurants, Vietnamese community wasn’t consulted or invited to speak to the issue > don’t get to choose the story that gets told about our community.

Who do you identify as?

 ~ I call myself second generation Korean but I don’t like it when others do it (bring what they think that means) ~ pass… Australian… Child of God ~ Child of God first, Vietnamese and Australian ~ NZ European/Pakeha and Maori (Ngai Tahu) claim this when it feels like it’s a benefit eg. Maori electoral roll >representation in NZ Parliament but not to claim/take anything ~ Indian-Australian (rejection of Indian culture, don’t know enough about culture & history) ~ Australian/Filipino – never one or the other ~

Ref: The Whiteness Project (youtube)

Ref: Race the Power of an Illusion (documentary)

Johann Blumenbach came up with the categories:

Caucasian – white
Mongolian – yellow
Malayan – brown
Ethiopian – black

Rev James Black Roland: “Let us keep before us the noble ideal of white Australia, a snow white if you will. Let us be pure and spotless.”

How does ‘whiteness’ function in your life? (personally, professionally, at church…?)

~ my workplace, need representation of other people of colour on the Council ~ white, straight hair, feminine = beautiful. Tried to be something I’m not eg. Jonah from Tonga show ~ Safest I’ve ever been. Can figure out what “Indian” means for me ~feel the poverty of being ‘stuck’ with white people – established systems and processes both at work and in community ~ Party culture – don’t fit in. Assimilated Asians treat me badly. Need to be funny, out-spoken, tell stories… church is accommodating > understand each others brokenness. Asian guy – Maths or The Hangover archetypes ~ “If you want to be competitive with white people you need to overachieve” (YES from the group) became my coping mechanism.  Colonised at home/church, assume you’re assimilated and it’s used against you.  Have learnt now to feel more comfortable there (white space than I do within my own cultural community). Jarring moments of being brought to awareness of your non-whiteness eg. insult calling based on colour (school had felt like safe space until then) ~

Operating across a lot of levels: personal/institutional/systemic…
how do we develop racial literacy?