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Title page for ETD etd-12192012-173403

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Cowser, Angela Rosita
URN etd-12192012-173403
Title Radicalizing Women-Centered Organizing and Power in Post-Conflict Namibia: A Case Study of the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia
Degree PhD
Department Religion
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Victor Anderson Committee Chair
Sandra L. Barnes Committee Co-Chair
C. Melissa Snarr Committee Member
Paul Dokecki Committee Member
  • womanism
  • patriarchy
  • black consciousness
  • liberation theology
  • apartheid theology
  • afrikaner nationalism
  • community organizing
  • MBOP
Date of Defense 2012-12-14
Availability unrestricted
Until 1990, most black and progressive churches in Namibia were proponents of a contextual variant of liberation theology. In it, Black churches and liberationists who were bound together by suffering, oppression, and persecution affirmed the God-given value and dignity of black identity and black people. These churches spoke with a united voice against injustice on behalf of the voiceless and it initiated relief projects for the poor. From 1978-1992, the Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN), the largest, ecumenical para-church organization in the nation, was the most vocal proponent and practitioner of a public theology of liberation for poor and indigenous Namibians. In the post-independence era (1990-present), many formerly liberationist churches and community-service organizations are now espousing more therapeutic, pietistic theologies and philosophies that in practice represent a retreat from the public sphere, public policy, and diminished responsibility to and charitable engagement with poor Namibians. In this dissertation, I argue that, with the exception of the black Lutheran Church’s BIG project, it is poor, indigenous Federation women, not black churches, who are now doing liberation theology by the ways in which they lift up and organize around the God-given dignity of poor, black women. To do this, they are combining womanist, women-centered organizing with elements of black consciousness in order to build one of the most powerful poor people’s organizations in Namibia and in Southern Africa. Federation women are re-conceptualizing private, household problems and organizing nationally to reframe them as public issues with public solutions.
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