Gender Unit

Queering the Prophet Conference (March 2022)

The Gender Unit hosted a successful “Queering the Prophet" Gender Unit conference from​ 16-18 March, 2022 that brought together a number of international and national scholars who reflected on what it means to be prophet in these exceedingly queer times in which we are living. On the first day scholars reflected on the intriguing book of Jonah read through the lens of gender, postcolonial and queer interpretation. Jonah, and also Isaiah, were considered as traumatized prophets, as an anti-prophet, as an implicated subject with speakers reflecting on questions of consent and prophetic identity, queer heterotopias that queer time, space and the prophetic body. In the rest of this conference, we continued to explore prophetic identity by means of two roundtable conversations of young and upcoming theologians which reflected on what it means to be a Womanist Biblical scholar in South Africa [Lerato Mokoena (UP), Sheurl Davis (NWU), Madré Arendse (SU)] and also what it means to Queer Truth in the Public(s) [Thuli Mjwara (IAM); Louis van der Riet (IAM); Hanzline Davids, (UNISA)]). A highlight was the paper by my co-organizer Ashwin Afrikanus Thyssen who reflected on the Activism of Zethu Matebeni and Charlene van der Walt in his presentation “On the Public Intellectual as Queer Prophet: Considering" as well as by Jacob Meiring on Desmond Tutu as a Queer Prophet in his role of Speaking out for LGBTIQ+ Equality.

Please click on the hyperlinks below to access the recordings of all the papers: ​

  1. https://youtu.be/5fyU5Ihp1UU
    Under a Desert Plant: Queer Heterotopias in Jonah
    Steed Davidson, McCormick Theological Seminary
  2. https://youtu.be/ZpC5IlNW13k
    Vishnu would have saved the Poor Fishie: A Transtextual Reading
    Jione Havea, Trinity Methodist Theological College (Aotearoa New Zealand)/ Public and Contextual Theology Research Centre of Charles Sturt University (Sydney, Australia)
  3. https://youtu.be/4YMxgqResKU
    These are the Days of Raw Despondence: Finding a Queer Kindred in the Book of Jonah. 
    Charlene van der Walt, School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics, University of KwaZulu-Natal
  4. https://youtu.be/_JEeJctB910
    Prophecy and Consent: The Case of Jonah
    Rhiannon Graybill, Rhodes College
  5. https://youtu.be/YxEdCVso0C0
    “When the World No Longer Appears the Right Way Up:" Queering Time, Space, and the Prophetic Body in Jonah 2
    Juliana Claassens, Stellenbosch University
  6. https://youtu.be/0eaVLiErZc8
    Queering the Straight Jonah – A Reception-Exegetical Exploration
    Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer, Örebro School of Theology
  7. https://youtu.be/j4fOZrI_uew
    Queering The Prophet: Jonah as an Implicated Subject.
    Gerrie Snyman, UNISA
  8. https://youtu.be/bhO0Bx6ha2Q 
    'Inqueering' Jonah as Anti-Prophet: Satirical Criticism of the Prophetic Office / Identity
    Hendrik L Bosman, Stellenbosch University
  9. https://youtu.be/zzksJhZCNHc
    Isaiah: The Wounded Prophet 
    Alphonso Groenewald & Liza Esterhuizen, University of Pretoria
  10. https://youtu.be/cw7cIfln_x8
    Faithful, Obedient and Queer: The Eunuch in Isaiah 56 through the Eyes of God
    Ntozakhe Cezula, Stellenbosch University
  11. https://youtu.be/IK247kgiPuQ
    From Jonah to Galatians: The Prophetic Plural, Corporate Queerness, and Transformative Praxis
    Gerald West, Charlene van der Walt, Sithembiso Zwane, Crystal Hall, Sizwe Sithole, and Tracey Sibisi, Ujamaa Centre, School of Religion, Philosophy, and Classics, University of KwaZulu-Natal
  12. https://youtu.be/7lR6gJxqx84
    People's Theology of Land: Disrupting the Dominant Story Line
    Rineke Van Ginkel, Stellenbosch University
  13. https://youtu.be/61Wphc-9H3c
    On the Public Intellectual as Queer Prophet: Considering the Activism of Zethu Matebeni and Charlene van der Walt
    Ashwin Afrikanus Thyssen, Stellenbosch University
  14. https://youtu.be/s3cOQjgFgoI
    Becoming a Queer Prophet – Desmond Tutu, Embodiment and Speaking out for LGBTIQ+ Equality 
    Jacob Meiring, Stellenbosch University​

Background to the Gender Unit:​

​The official launch of the Gender Unit was in March 2017.

Through the work of the Gender Unit, and in partnership with partners near and far, the hope is to contribute to the formation of a​​​world where racism, sexism, homophobia and the dehumanizing reality of poverty is no more by amongst others​: 

(a) Raising funds for PhD scholarships in order to give doctoral students the opportunity to continue their research on Gender, Health and Theology and so helping to cultivate thought leaders who can go back to their respective communities in order to serve as agents of change​ and

​(b) Creating a community of scholars who through their research contribute to the establishment of a centre of excellence that contextually explains the intersection of Gender, Health and the various sub-disciplines of Theology​​​