How asian/asian north american women theological educators negotiate power dynamics
Gutierrez, Jannette Wei-Ting W. P.
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The purpose of this study was to understand how Asian and Asian North American women negotiate race and gender in the patriarchal context of Christian theological education. Two research questions guided this study: 1) What are the power dynamics within Asian/Asian North American women theologians’ learning and teaching environment?; 2) What strategies do they use when encountering power dynamics in their teaching and learning in which patriarchal ideologies dominate? The sample for this qualitative study was comprised of eight Asian/Asian North American women theological educators who taught or are teaching in theological institutions. Participants include one Chinese American, two Chinese immigrants, one Korean American, one Japanese immigrant, one Japanese American, and two Korean immigrants. Their age ranged from 38 to 62. Analysis of the data revealed that participants, as learner and teachers, experienced power dynamics and utilized a variety of strategies to negotiate in the context of theological education. The power dynamics in their learning and teaching were characterized in four themes: mastery, voice, authority, and positionality. Categories under mastery were downgraded academic performance as students and being resisted, challenged and dishonored as teachers. Nonexistence of role models and invisibility to students and colleagues were categories of the theme of voice. Authority was usurped, undermined, and questioned; authority was weakened due to their race, gender and age; and secured and reinforced authority were found under the theme of authority. Categories of being stereotyped, Androcentrism and white privilege, and tokenism emerged under the theme of positionality. The data also showed that participants developed and utilized various resources of strategies to negotiate their power when they encountered race and gender in the context of theological education. These strategies included teaching philosophy, faith and theology, sense of accomplishment from teaching, culturation/absorbing/adjustment, engaged feminist and critical pedagogy, authenticating their authority as teachers, pronouncing and asserting their positionality, and alignment with and getting supports from communities and allies. Three conclusions were drawn from this study. First, Asian/Asian North American women theological educators are invisible and silenced in the construction of knowledge in the patriarchal context of theological education. Second, the positionality of Asian/Asian North American women impacts the power dynamics in their classrooms and is negotiated with a variety of strategies. Third, perpetuated racism and sexism was experienced by Asian/Asian North American women theological educators in the institutional context of theological education.
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