Women and Asian Religions
by Zayn R. Kassam, Editor
June 2017, 394pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-275-99159-3
$53, £40, 46€, A72
eBook Available: 978-0-313-08275-7
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Women of the Dalit caste in Nepal suffer severe discrimination for both their gender and their position in the social hierarchy.

Covering eclectic topics ranging from South Asian religion to motherhood to world dance to ethnomusicology, this book focuses on contemporary selected experiences of women and how their lives interface with religion.

Religion has often been perceived as the source of constriction for women’s roles in society. This volume explores how modern women across Asia are mobilizing their faith traditions to address existential issues encountered in both the public and private realms, relating to economics, public participation, politics, and culture. As such, it is revealed that religion can be a powerful force for social change and ameliorating women’s lives, despite use of religious doctrine in the past to limit women.

Editor Zayn R. Kassam, PhD, and the contributors cover not only the commonly considered “Asian” traditions of Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism but also Christianity, Judaism, Bahai, and indigenous traditions. The book reveals that the challenges and opportunities Asian women face arise both from within and outside, whether in terms of developments within their countries or in relation to international political and economic regimes. The chapters explore how the issues Asian women face have as much to do with cultural and religious codes as they do with politics, economics, education, and the law; consider the varying ways in which family and motherhood are affected by the state’s construction of the gendered citizen, by social constructs of motherhood, and by policies regarding women and children’s access to health care; and identify the roles played by religion and spirituality in these circumstances.


  • Examines how women draw upon their faith to address the issues they face in the changing contexts of globalization, religion and spirituality, and feminism
  • Reveals the myriad ways in which women across Asia are mobilizing to become agents of change while remaining firmly rooted in their religious and cultural traditions
  • Highlights how religion can be a powerful force for social change
Zayn R. Kassam, PhD, is John Knox McLean Professor of Religious Studies at Pomona College, Claremont, CA. She is the author of Greenwood's Introduction to the World's Major Religions: Islam and editor of Praeger's Women and Islam. Kassam has also published numerous articles on gender and serves on the editorial board of Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. A two-time winner of the Wig Award for Distinguished Teaching at Pomona College, she has also won the national American Academy of Religion Teaching Excellence Award.


"The extensive back matter adds value. Graduate and upper undergraduate students will find rich material in areas such as intersectionality, socioeconomics, anthropology, and politics."—Library Journal, November 1, 2017

"The editor brings together scholars with different areas of expertise, and this serves to underscore the fact that women’s experiences, in various geographical and religious contexts, are often different, sometimes even within the same spiritual tradition. Furthermore, the various lenses, including, for example, that of motherhood, challenge any notion that feminism can be defined in a singular way. In addition to challenging singular definitions in religiosity, the text serves to mitigate against assuming a strict divide between religions considered Eastern and Western. Finally, the authors provide numerous examples of female agency in traditions that are often stereotyped as lacking in this regard. Summing Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers."—Choice, March 1, 2018
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