International Conference: God’s Own Gender? Religions and their Concepts of Masculinity

Organizers: Dr. Daniel Gerster, Center for Religion and Modernity (CRM) 
Prof. Dr. Detlef Pollack, Cluster of Excellence ‚Religion and Politics‘
Centre for Isalmic Theology

Venue:   University of Münster, Germany

Date:    10-11 November 2016



Dr. Daniel Gerster, Center for Religion and Modernity, Münster/Germany

Throughout history religions have shaped how people thought about and practised gender, a core concept of any social order. Linking it to concepts of ‘God(s)’, to the Cosmos and creation, religions often preached a fundamental divide between man and woman – and emphasised the dominant role of ‘the man’, in religion as well as in society: he was seen as the actual image of God, had the sole right to serve as priest, and was considered head of the family.

Today religion is still an important source for images of men. But as both, gender and religion, undergo manifold transformations, they are no longer reliable social categories: shifts in men’s gendered identities as well as in the contended boundaries of sexuality challenge traditional concepts of masculinity, as we can see in discussions on homosexuality in different religions. At the same time, secularization and growing religious plurality question traditional religious gender ideas and practices.

This international and transdisciplinary conference will ask how exactly these changes affect different religions and
their traditional masculinities. It will explore the ways in which religions and their sacred texts have been sources for images of men and ask what changes can be seen throughout history. The conference will explore contemporary controversies on masculinity within different religions and ask how far different religious actors are willing to take into account the challenges of religious and gendered diversity.

Questions and discussions, tensions and controversies affect all religions around the globe. The conference therefore includes research on different religious traditions, among them the major ‘world religions’, and examines the relations between religion and concepts of masculinity in a global perspective.


Dr. Daniel Gerster

Center for Religion and Modernity

Roggenmarkt 14

48143 Münster/Germany
Tel. +49 251 83-23501