Sara Gehlin

Sara Gehlin, Tutkijatohtori
Women and Peace: Vision and Reality at the Intersection of Feminist and Peace Theology

This project has its starting point at the crossroad between theology and political science. It progresses in affiliation with the ongoing search for solutions to religiously framed conflicts. Such solutions have largely been sought by means of political tools, methods, and strategies. However, recent political scientific research points to the need for complementary perspectives in order to make these kinds of conflicts settle into sustainable peace. Theology belongs to these perspectives. The search for a deeper understanding of the dynamics at the roots of religiously framed conflicts has resulted in a growing call for knowledge about the rational, as well as the irrational, elements that religious language, imagery, and symbolism may hold. The research project involves exploring how theological discourses can serve such a deepened understanding and contribute to turning violent trends into peaceful attitudes in religious groups.
The exploration takes place within the framework of the discipline of faith-based diplomacy. Performed by agents within civil society, faith-based diplomacy is often labelled a kind of “soft diplomacy”. It is conducted at the “middle-range” as well as the “grass-roots” level of society. The implications of faith-based diplomacy have so far been explored mainly with regard to its practical dimensions in the life of religious communities. I suggest, however, that theological discourses play a considerable role in the design of faith-based diplomacy at different levels of society. The research project involves delving into this possible role of theology by exploring notions of recognition in ecumenical peace theology.
This exploration is carried out with certain regard to the role of women in peacebuilding processes, as it is portrayed in contemporary ecumenical theological discourses. In these discussions, the UN Resolution 1325 on women and peace is frequently mentioned. Yet, its goals and principles are not as frequently related to a comprehensive peacebuilding field. The research project aims at contributing to an expansion of this debate. With this aim in view, the research project brings ecumenical peace theology into intersection with feminist theological discourses on the building of peace.