Although the importance of women as members of religious movements or institutions has long been recognized, less attention has been given to women’s roles as spiritual leaders. Recent research on women prophets and spiritual leaders in Senegal (Hill 2014; Baum 2015), Zambia (Gordon 2012), the Democratic Republic of Congo (Covington-Ward 2014), and Gabon (Cinnamon 2012) demonstrates that women are leaders in healing, prophecy, and a range of other spiritual activities. Yet, on what basis are they making claims to spiritual authority? How do they negotiate gender-related challenges and obstacles in male-dominated religious and spiritual spheres? This panel brings together scholars researching women spiritual leaders throughout the continent coming from a wide spectrum of religious beliefs and practices—Christianity, Islam, and a variety of indigenous African and syncretic religions— to illuminate and interrogate common trends and significant differences. With particular attention to embodiment, narrative, ancestors, sacred texts, and revelations, this panel explores women’s agency and creativity as spiritual leaders in larger contexts of uncertainty, marginalization, and social change.

We are looking for one more presenter for our panel.

Please e-mail an abstract and a CV to Yolanda Covington-Ward, at ydc1[at]pitt.edu by 12:00pm (Noon) EST on Wednesday, March 15, 2017.