This month, we want to highlight eight prominent theologians who are women of color. Women who are at the forefront of conversations about womanist theology, gender, feminism, and race in the church. We encourage you to take a moment to pause, find a quiet place to read and discover the depth and wisdom these theologians have to offer.

 

Natalia Imperatori Lee

Recommended by Jennifer Fernandez, PhD, ABD

“A Catholic liberation theologian Imperatori-Lee has been called a ‘problematic theologian’ by the Catholic church and if you know me, there’s nothing I like more than someone who troubles the waters, so to speak. Imperatori-Lee writes as a scholar-activist who urges for reform and new ways of thinking. She writes about bodies, gender, ecclesiology and the relationship of women and the poor to institutions like the church.”

For your reading list:
“Father Knows Best: Theological Mansplaining and the Ecclesial War on Women” in The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 31:2 (Fall 2015), 89-107

 

Mercy Amba Oduyoye*

“A renowned theologian, educator, writer, mentor, and poet, she has worked tirelessly to address issues of poverty, health care, youth empowerment, women’s rights, destructive cultural and religious practices, and global unrest. She is the founder of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians, an organization that encourages African women to research, write, and publish their own books and articles on “African issues” and concerns (Biola University Database: Christian Educators of the 20th Century).”

For your reading list:
Beads & Strands: Reflections of an African Woman on Christianity in Africa

 

Ivone Gebara

Recommended by Jennifer Fernandez, PhD, ABD

“I think assigning Longing for Running Water by Gebara over the last year and a half at The Seattle School has deepened my appreciation for her work all the more as I see students minds blown by the simplicity of Gebara’s words and by their sheer power. I learned about her when I took Intro to Theology and it was such a brave, holistic, feminist approach to liberative theology and ecofeminism, that I’ve carried it forward with me into my work today. She’s clear, powerful, engaging, and real.”

For your reading list:
Longing for Running Water: Ecofeminism and Liberation

 

Mayra Rivera

Recommended by Jennifer Fernandez, PhD, ABD

“Rivera explores colonialism, race, and gender through a lens of materiality, namely in Poetics of the Flesh, the body. She’s a brilliant mind who approaches theology through Carribean themes and theory. She explores critical issues of being, knowing, living into bodiliness… often using theopoetics as a way of embracing deeper ephemeral concepts. Her work is elegant and purposeful.”

For your reading list:
Poetics of the Flesh

 

Emilie Townes

“Townes’ broad areas of expertise include Christian ethics, cultural theory and studies, postmodernism and social postmodernism. She has been a pioneering scholar in womanist theology, a field of studies in which the historic and current insights of African American women are brought into critical engagement with the traditions of Christian theology. Townes has a strong interest in thinking critically about womanist perspectives on issues such as health care, economic justice, poetry and literary theory (Vanderbilt Divinity School).”

For your reading list:
Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil

 

Kwok-Pui Lan

“Kwok Pui Lan is Distinguished Visiting Professor at Candler School of Theology of Emory University, and the 2011 president of the American Academy of Religion. She has published extensively in Asian feminist theology, biblical interpretation, and postcolonial criticism. Kwok received her doctorate in theology degree from Harvard University, and a master’s in theology degree and a bachelor of divinity degree from Southeast Asia Graduate School of Theology (Association of Theological Schools).”

For your reading list:
Postcolonial Imagination and Feminist Theology

 

Elsa Tamez

“Born in Victoria, Mexico, Dr. Tamez currently resides in Costa Rica where she is on the faculty of the Latin American Biblical University in San José. She has previously taught at Vanderbilt Divinity School in the field of Latin American Liberation Theology and Harvard Divinity School in the area of World Christianity […] She has also received several awards for her contributions to Contextual Biblical Hermeneutics including the Hans-Sigrist Award from the University of Bern, Switzerland (BPFNA).”

For your reading list:
Bible of the Oppressed

The Scandalous Message of James: Faith Without Works Is Dead

 

Katie Cannon

“Canon was a woman of many firsts which include being the first Black woman to receive a PhD from Union Theological Seminary (1983) and the first Black woman to be ordained in the United Presbyterian Church (USA) (1974) […] As the Annie Scales Rogers Professor of Christian Ethics at Union Presbyterian Seminary from 2001 to 2018, Cannon also served on the faculties of New York Theological Seminary, the Episcopal Divinity School, and Temple University. She was a visiting professor at Harvard Divinity School, Yale Divinity School, and Wellesley College (Emilie Townes, “Katie Geneva Cannon (1950–2018): Scholar, Teacher, and Minister,” American Academy of Religion).”

For your reading list:
Womanist Theological Ethics

Katie’s Canon: Womanism and the Soul of the Black Community

 

A special Thank You to Jennifer Fernandez, PhD, ABD, and Susan Hall for their contributions to this list.

*The photo of Mercy Oduyoye originally appeared in the Christian Educators of the 20th Century website entry and is used with permission.