Mary, Our Lady of Liberation: An Ethnographic Study of Palestinian Liberation Theology

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This dissertation both asks what the role of faith is for women involved in nonviolent resistance movements in Palestine through ethnographic fieldwork and considers what their theological insights mean for the global church. This second aim necessitates that my research goes beyond simply recording and telling the stories of women and also attends to the underlying theologies their narratives express. This requires being attentive to the spirituality of their storytelling.  In order to achieve this,  I build on the existing field of theological ethnography  (which utilizes ethnographic tools such as interviews and participant observation for theological reflection) and develop my own method, within this approach that I call lectio ethnography, in order to give theologians a praxis for giving laywomen’s faith narratives due theological weight rather than privileging the theological perspective of clergy and academic theologians, both of which remain male-dominated spaces even where women are included. The method achieves this through integrating the medieval spiritual praxis of lectio with ethnography to guide both the researcher and the reader through a process of deep listening in order to enter more fully into the worldview of the interviewee and the spiritual significance of their words. The result is that my dissertation not only recovers the stories of women in Palestine but also considers the theological implications of their stories and articulates a vision of nonviolent resistance and liberation grounded in both the activism and spirituality of these women.