This study explores how religious women become legitimate actors in the public sphere and analyzes their agency4;its meanings, capacities, and transformative aims. It presents a novel case study of Israeli Modern-Orthodox Agunah activists who engage in highly politicized collective feminist resistance as religious actors working for religious ends. Embedded in and activated by Orthodoxy, they advocate women9;s rights to divorce, voicing a moral critique of tradition and its agents precisely because they are devoutly devoted to them. Such political agency is innovatively conceptualized as C;devoted resistanceD;: critique within relationship, enabled by cultural schema, and comprising both interpretive skills and C;relational-autonomyD; capacities. This study contends that understanding agency within religious grammars reveals its underlying logics, highlighting how structures shape the meanings and realization of women9;s varied C;agentive capacities.D; It challenges current dichotomies like feminism/religion, resistance/submission, and autonomy/dependence. Overall, the author argues for a nuanced, culturally specific, capacity-based, relational approach to analyzing religious women9;s agency.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This article is part of my dissertation, written under the supervision of Professor Tova Hartman and generously supported by the Gazit-Globe fellowship, Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, and Hadassah-Brandeis Institute.
© 2014 by The Author(s).
- devoted resistance
- feminist activism
- relational autonomy