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The International Scholars of the History of Women Religious Association (ISHWRA)

ISHWRA is an international network of scholars founded in 2021 whose specific focus is to promote and facilitate enquiry into the history of Catholic female religious through a global lens.

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Currently the history of women religious exists largely in national, regional and chronological silos; ISHWRA endeavours to address this, being deliberately broad in its scope, not only with regard to presenters and participants but crucially, in terms of content. The focus of the network is deliberately transnational and multidisciplinary.

The principal output of ISHWRA is a monthly research seminar and a biennial workshop. All seminars are hosted virtually to allow for global participation, but some take place in a hybrid form through an in-person and online format. These particular events are hosted by the Centre for Catholic Studies. The rationale behind the seminar series is that it allows for the tracking of major international research themes, which include the history of female religious in relation to matters of education, faith and spirituality, gender, politics, race, and social care. The seminar series invites contributions from scholars from a broad array of disciplinary backgrounds.

The focus of the network is deliberately transnational and multidisciplinary, welcoming participation from those who come from a broad array of scholarly and non-scholarly backgrounds alike.

Who We Are

The convening committee of ISHWRA is composed of the following, from whom any further information may be requested:

The work of ISHWRA benefits from the support of an Advisory Committee, comprising: 

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ISHWRA Seminar Series

All are welcome to attend ISHWRA seminars. Some seminars are hybrid and others are fully online so, wherever you are in the world, we hope you can make it!

See below for the seminar schedule for 2022.

Seminars take place at 2pm-3.15pm UK time. The hybrid seminars will take place online and in Abbey House, Palace Green, Durham. The rest of the seminars are fully online.

All are welcome to attend. Registration opens at three weeks before each seminar.

Date Speaker Title Details
12 January

Sarah Barthélemy

(Durham University, UK and Université Saint-Louis - Bruxelles, Belgium)

Women and the Jesuit Norms in Europe: From the Matres Societatis Iesu to the Jésuitesses, 17th-19th centuries Online event
8 February

Anca Sincan

(Gheorghe Sincai Institute, Romanian Academy)

An army of nuns: the network of Greek Catholic women who built the underground Church in 1950s Romania Online event
9 March

Tonya Moutray

(Russell Sage College, USA)

Navigating religious difference: Catholic nuns in England 1794-1829 Hybrid event
6 April

Michel Chambon

(National University of Singapore)

The ministry of Chinese Catholic nuns, past and present  Online event 
11 May 

Carmen Mangion

(Birkbeck, University of London, UK)

Lay sisters' voices: Gender, social class, and religious identities, 1900-1950 Hybrid event 

New date:

7 July

Sergi Sancho Fibla

(UCLouvain, Belgium)  

Reassessing knowledge transmission structures of religious women in Southern Europe, c. 1300–1500  Online event 



Related Links

History of Catholicism projects

Including projects with the Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre and the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood

Religious Life Vitality Project

Exploring the vitality and sustainability of women's religious life in the UK and Ireland and East and Central Africa

How to stay informed

If you would like to be added to the ISHWRA mailing list, please contact one of the network convenors via email.