Genders, Rights, Histories and Religions: Educating the Self in an Age of Transition

By William Acres.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Learning a religion is never as simple as it appears. The proper names, nouns, ideas and development are put into place as strategies for learners. An engaged process of learning depends on seeing one’s self as a student challenged not only by the terms and their meanings, but also by the way in which contemporary discourse fashions those ideas as part of larger schema. Religion implies a plurality of practices; gender implies a variety of interpretations; rights identify a specific legal construction of social diversity. By holding to view a few concrete examples of transition, this paper will examine a teaching and learning process where the student learns about the nature of self and its preconceptions through making connections across borders with those who practice religions in other jurisdictions. The rhetoric of rights and religions sometimes obscures another rhetorical strategy: the encoding of those claims within a set of ideas which is not only ‘western’ (in some senses) or ‘global’, but also impermeable to the actual claims of religiously-articulated ideas of self and human development. The argument looks at the assumptions behind those concepts which are, finally, neither universal nor susceptible of easy transitions. This paper is a philosophical discussion rooted in extensive pedagogical engagement with the subject and many hundreds of students.

Keywords: Gender, Rights, Religion, Transition, Definitions of Self, Learning Across Invisible Borders of Definition of Personhood

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 9, pp.355-372. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 803.857KB).

Dr. William Acres

Professor, Theology, History, Huron University College/The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

Acres teaches Comparative Religion and History at Huron University College where he is a member of the Faculty of Theology as well as having membership in the departments of History and Graduate Studies at The University of Western Ontario. His work is focused on the relationship between religion, gender and rights in the contemporary international scene, but particularly with the historical interpretation of those terms. By examining the nature of religion he has completed “Exploring Religion: A Reader” for Oxford University Press and is at work on a monograph in which the global transmission of religious ideas is compared with their historical reconstruction since the early modern period. In addition, he enjoys teaching both disciplines immensely.

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