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    Apr 12, 2023 @4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

    It's Always Been Missionary Territory: A Feminist Analysis of Race and Foreign Missionaries in the Catholic West

    Catholic churches across the country have been closing their doors and consolidating parishes. In rural areas of Montana and North Dakota, a church closure could mean that parishioners would have to travel 30+ miles to attend services or to receive sacraments. Many dioceses in rural areas have turned to priests from India. These priests are entering into predominantly white parishes where they can experience racism and unconscious biases from both parishioners and fellow priests. Additionally, Indian priests serve on Native reservations and enter into the long and disturbing history and present of Catholic settler colonialism. But Indian missionary priests have also engendered cross-racial and transnational friendships disrupting coastal elite assumptions of rural areas being inhospitable provincial “fly over” zones.

    Sonja Thomas grew up as a Catholic and South Asian American in Eastern Montana and is writing an autoethnography on the subject. In this talk, she will share a portion of her forthcoming manuscript, Indians and Cowboys: Race, Caste, and Indian Missionary Priests in Rural America.

    Thomas is an associate professor of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies at Colby College. Her research examines the intersections of caste, race, gender, class, and religion in postcolonial India and the South Asian diaspora. She has worked to make caste recognized as a protected category at Colby College. She is also active in the social justice and equity working group with Maine public schools.

    This event is co-sponsored by Gender and Women's Studies and the Sanzone Center for Catholic Studies and Theological Reflection.
    Location : Curtin Special Events Room (Campus Center)
    Category : Lecture/Reading