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  • Living It Out:Manthologies
  • Kecia Ali, Alison Joseph, Sharon Jacob, Sarah Imhoff, Toni Bond, Natasha Heller, and Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder

In May and June 2019, the Feminist Studies in Religion blog ran an @TheTable series ( focused on how gender bias leads to the exclusion of women from scholarly conversation. In their introduction to this series they wrote the following:

Scholars, mostly female, but not exclusively, have been calling out overt signs of gender bias all over the academy. For instance, feminist philosophers have focused on the harms associated with an all-male conference, while female scholars of color demonstrate how the intersection of race and class affects women in particular in the academy. Male-only conversations do not happen at random, and effort is necessary to correct them.

As this campaign by feminist philosophers points out, all-male scholarship tends to perpetuate the stereotyping of academe as an all-male environment. This in turn contributes to implicit bias against women, stereotype threat which can result in women and people of color not performing as well, women being passed over for jobs or grants, and even women receiving more critical teaching evaluations. Scholars of color, transgender scholars, and many others suffer from the intersectional discrimination of multiple marginal identities.

Catchy hashtags and nicknames help to raise awareness of the pervasiveness of this problem. Some use the term manel to refer to an all-male panel. Eva Mroczek, a Hebrew Bible scholar, coined the term festicle to refer to a festschrift with only male contributors. There are many other egregious examples of women's exclusion from academic discourse, such as journal issues with contributions only from male scholars, that have yet to develop their own hashtag. The @TheTable series focused on manthologies, a term coined by Mara Benjamin in the first blog of the series (, [End Page 145] and which we hope will catch on as #manthology. A manthology is an anthology with mostly (or only) male contributors.1

In an effort to expand the conversation, Feminist Studies in Religion editors invited additional scholars and activists to contribute their insights at an American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature (AAR/SBL) preconference session in November 2019: Kecia Ali (Boston University), Alison Joseph (Posen Library), Sharon Jacob (Pacific School of Religion), Sarah Imhoff (Indiana University), Toni Bond (Claremont School of Theology), Natasha Heller (University of Virginia), and Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder (Chicago Theological Seminary). The following is a transcript of that panel.

We are grateful to Michal Raucher for her continued organization of these conversations and Midori Hartman for her moderation of the panel at AAR/SBL. We invite our readers to continue the conversation by submitting a blog to reflect and respond to the conversation generated by the @theTable series and this panel.

What is the problem? What is a "manthology"? Is this just about men in a table of contents? Or is it about topics they address? How does the problem show up in its particularity in your discipline?

Kecia Ali:

Strictly defined, a manthology is an all- or mostly male collective publication. But I think the spirit of the manthology really pervades much of what we do. And part of the problem is that you can't separate what's cause and what's effect. Who makes it into a publication is dependent upon what kind of networks one already has in place. But, of course, who makes it into a publication determines who gets looked at for the next publication, or the next invited lecture, or the next panel. And so, these things are self-reinforcing. Exclusion begets exclusion. We know this. So that's the problem—or at least it's one problem.

How does this show up in Islamic studies specifically? Understood capaciously, Islamic studies covers a number of subfields, including some represented here at this conference: Qur'anic studies, the study of contemporary Islam, the study of American Islam, the study of early or formative Islam. Some subfields are more prone to the manthology than others. Qur'anic studies and the study of early Islam are particularly...


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pp. 145-158
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