Keck Undergraduate Humanities Research Fellows

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-3-2019


Christianity | Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence | Ethics in Religion | Religious Education | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Social Psychology | Sociology

Description, Abstract, or Artist's Statement

This project centers on the question: how are dynamics present in the Salem Witch Trials related to contemporary religious issues surrounding gender and agency? An existential approach to studying the Salem Witch Trials is used, highlighting themes like agency and intersubjectivity to create a new understanding of these events (Jackson 2002; Arendt 1962). Not only has this not been done in previous scholarship, but existential analysis opens the door to making connections between the Salem Witch Trials and modern times. Women today are still constrained by social and religious norms and motivated by existential needs and questions. This will be seen in a variety of different case studies the author will analyze, including scholarly critiques of feminists who force neo-liberal notions of liberation and empowerment onto other women (such as the desire to “free” Afghani women from wearing the hijab) and fictionalized accounts like The Handmaid’s Tale that depict women who are socially and religiously regulated (Abu-Lughod 2013; Scott 2007). Overall, this project will draw from existential, anthropological, theological, and psychological themes to argue that religious women today still struggle with agency and resistance and create a case study for use in high school and undergraduate classes.