Displacement and Disqualification: Its Surfaces and Silhouettes
Catholic Asian Feminist Theological Perspective
9th Biennial Conference
Venue: Monash University, Bandar Sunway, Selangor, Malaysia
Date: 15-19 January 2020


Ecclesia of Women in Asia (EWA) is an academic forum of Catholic women theologians in Asia. EWA encourages and assists Catholic women in Asia to engage in research, reflection, and writing from a feminist perspective. It invites women towards doing theology that: a) is inculturated and contextualized in Asian realities; b) builds on the spiritual experience and praxis of the socially excluded; c) promotes mutuality and the integrity of creation; d) dialogues with other disciplines, Christian denominations and religions/faiths.

This Call for Papers/Participants is extended to all Catholic women “doing theology” in Asia at the grassroots, pastoral and/or professional level.


Bombarded with headlines, breaking news and heartbreaking images of people displaced. An unprecedented 65.6 million people around the world are forced out from home. We are living in a world where nearly 20 people are forcibly displaced every minute as a result of conflict or persecution. In June 2017, the UNHCR’s Statistics from Global Trends, Forced Displacement in 2016showed that 1 in 113 persons is a refugee. We are witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. Social disqualification of displaced refugees is obvious, although they have not done anything wrong, they are often disaffiliated within a country that could provide access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment, and freedom of movement. But disqualification of peoples under unjust systems, structures, cultures and religions causing internal displacement in societies is often subtler. Internal or external displacement is always an intense psychological trauma that can undermines the dignity of the human person.

Displacement can be induced by conflict, disaster, or development. The lines between them may not be clear-cut. Sometimes conflict over natural resources and human activities may lead to natural disasters. Displaced persons, including refugees, asylum-seekers, economic migrants and other migrants, are forced to move or resettle in another country. There are also persons who have not crossed an internationally recognized State border, but are internally displaced and disqualified due to armed conflict, violence, gender, disability, language, disease, violation of human rights, ethnic cleansing, eviction of indigenous people from their ancestral lands, development projects, natural or human-made disasters. While focus on displacement is often on people in the Middle East or Africa, many Asians also suffer various kinds of displacement, as well as disqualification.

In Asia in the past decade, the largest number of internally displaced people occurred in India, Myanmar, Pakistan, and the Philippines due to violence and human rights violations. In India, communal violence between Muslims and Hindus in Uttar Pradesh forced thousands of people to flee their homes. The recent most publicized and traumatic conflict-induced displacement in Asia is “the Rohingya” in Myanmar due to armed conflict and inter-communal violence, which renders them disqualified from land and citizenship.

Global warming and climate change as well as natural disasters have also internally displaced many because of the destruction of homes and livelihood. This can be found in China, the Philippines, India, Bangladesh and Indonesia. For example, earthquakes in China not only killed many people, but also destroyed thousands of homes, forcing people to be evacuated. In the Philippines, we witness the devastation of the super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) after widespread flooding with residents still trying to rebuild their lives. Armed conflict in Marawi brought numerous internally displaced people (IDP) out of their settled land, and they are no longer able to return to their homes. Recurrent river erosion on the banks of South Western Bangladesh, such as in Khulna since early 2000 has led to massive displacement of the local population. Simultaneously, the slow but steady erosion of the Ganges River in the district of Malda in West Bengal, India has caused the people residing in these areas to lose their homes. Human causes of devastation like the Fukushima nuclear plant destruction in Japan also displaced many people.

Displacement and disqualification of people in Asia are also caused by economic factors. People are evicted from their homeland in the name of development or through lack of job opportunities; thus, they are forced to seek a better livelihood in other parts of their country or the world. Many of them become migrant workers with the attendant challenges, difficulties, at times are marginalized or labeled as a “low-end population” likened with those in China. Besides, in some places, such as Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand indigenous or tribal peoples are disqualified from their homeland. Many countries are making it almost impossible for displaced persons to enter: camps, walls, stricter laws ensure that those comfortably off will not be disturbed by the displaced. Less affluent countries, bordering the conflicted zones, bear the brunt of the unplanned overflow of thousands of displaced, while more distant nations cut relief funding.

Among the displaced and disqualified people, women comprise over half of the population. Some NGOs found that displaced and disqualified women are at a particular risk of becoming homeless. Conflict and displacement can also result in socio-economic ruptures within the family; the loss of work and income, as well as changes in social roles and status, which can result in an increase in family violence. Rape and other forms of sexual violence is a significant phenomenon affecting displaced communities. For those who suffered rape, they may experience multiple crises of physical and psychological injury, and disqualification by families, communities and legal systems. Human trafficking of mostly women and children is sometimes considered as the most violent form of displacement because the autonomy, and dignity and freedom of a person are totally denied. For the women migrant workers, many have to face the challenges of splitting families, loneliness, exploitation and discrimination in another country.

As part of the protection mandate practical assistance programs should be offered to the displaced and disqualified people. Very often, food, medicine and shelter are provided with less attention paid to protecting the personal security and human rights of the displaced and disqualified. Some critics suggest that the displaced and disqualified people, especially women, should not be treated as victims or vulnerable groups. As such, they would be offered only palliative care rather than confronting underlying systemic injustices. Questions of how the displaced and disqualified re-gain dignity, capability and self-esteem so they can exercise their agency and participation in the receiving or resettled countries or places are important in addressing this issue.

Our Catholic faith has a long tradition of embodying hospitality in receiving strangers (Gen 18:1–15). In the Old Testament, there are laws stating that one should not oppress strangers or aliens (Exodus 22:20; Lev 19:33–34; Deut 10:19). The Gospels portray Jesus as the model of a hospitable host, always welcoming of others. Migrants and refugees are a key concern in the Catholic Church. January 21st is declared as the World Day of Migrants and Refugees and the pope promulgates a message every year to  draw our attention to the refugees, the displaced, and migrants. In the most recent message, Pope Francis encourages Christians to advocate and support concrete actions to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate our migrant and refugee neighbors, and to share this message with all, especially our political and social leaders. Global Catholic relief agencies, like Caritas, work with local peoples and other agencies across the globe in addresing the issues of dispalcement and lack of access to basic needs. In the same vein, we are called to awareness of other peoples through a day of remembrance, such as: International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, of Disabled Peoples, World AIDS Day, and the like. Hospitality must also be afforded to these people, who suffer from various forms of displacement and disqualification. More than ever, theological and pastoral resources should be retrieved to examine the issue of displacement and disqualification in Asia.

In view of the above situation, we should engage in a deeper theological conversation and reflection from various perspectives.  The 9th Biennial Conference of the Ecclesia of Women in Asia sends out this Call for Papers on the theme: Displacement and Disqualification: Its Surfaces and Silhouettes


Below are some keywords, which can be explored for the papers, but are not limited to:

  • Migration
  • Involuntary or forced migration
  • Displacement
  • Disqualification
  • Camps and walls
  • Conflict-induced displacement
  • Disaster-induced displacement
  • Development-induced displacement
  • Refugees
  • Impact on children of years in refugee camps
  • Asylum-seekers
  • Economic migrants
  • Armed conflict
  • Violence
  • Disability
  • Diseases
  • Violation of human rights
  • Natural or human-made disasters
  • Receiving countries
  • Language
  • Hospitality
  • Sexual reproductive health and rights and armed conflict
  • Welcoming strangers/ aliens
  • Egalitarian and inclusive attitude
  • Empowerment
  • Protection
  • Durable solutions
  • National and International response
  • Resilience
  • Alternative visions
  • Change
  • Discernment
  • Opportunities
  • Transformation
  • Trafficking of persons


Below are some of the broad areas, which can be explored for the papers but are not limited to:

The relation of gender to displacement

  • Gender as an analytical category in defining forced migration and displacement
  • Re-thinking masculinity and femininity and related gender roles (e.g. women’s access to economic security, conflict and disasters impact differently on men and women)


  • Women/families who fled from conflicts, violence and disasters (e.g. Exodus, Hagar, Ruth, the Holy Family)
  • Attitudes and laws towards strangers, aliens and the marginalized
  • Migration and foreigners in the Bible
  • prophetic women
  • creation
  • hospitality
  • disease and disability

Systematic Theology

  • Feminist or liberative perspectives on displacement, involuntary migration, conflicts and violence
  • Dignity of women and men from the perspective of feminist theological anthropology
  • women’s perspectives on theodicy, hope
  • feminist eschatology
  • ecofeminist perspectives on soteriology
  • Trintarian theology which explores the gift of unity in difference and interculturality.


  • Christological questions that address gender issues
  • Jesus as the model of a hospitable host
  • Jesus’ egalitarian and inclusive attitude in a sacred community
  • Jesus’ words and deeds in welcoming the Other


  • Mary as a sojourner after giving birth to Jesus
  • Mary as an active agent with subjectivity


  • The Church of equal partnership with members of various minorities, e.g. gender, ethnic, sexual, religious and background
  • The Church as a community in close relationship
  • The Church as Imagined Communities among different groups of people
  • Attitudes of members of the Church in receiving countries

Moral Theology/Ethics

  • Women and the geo-politics in Asia (e.g. reasons of displacement in various Asian countries )
  • Ethical responses towards displacement, forced migration or refugees issue
  • Various ethical methods in approaching displacement and forced migration
  • Ethics in disqualification of people with disabilities and PLHIV
  • Women and work in the context of globalization and migration
  • Human rights and laws in countries of origin and receiving countries
  • Relationship between personal and social ethics
  • Relationship between spirituality and morality, contemplation and action

Liturgy/Liturgical Theology

  • Liturgy that is dedicated to displaced people
  • How can displaced people access Sacraments and liturgy?
  • Asian Christian rituals, with participation of or input from displaced women
  • Feminist or Feminine liturgy for the displaced and marginalized
  • Creation or experience of healing and consoling liturgy for/by displaced people and those who work for them
  • Empowering anamnesis
  • Disqualification of peoples with different language and gender

Christian Mission/Missiology

  • Postcolonial, Poststructural, Postmodern and Trans-feminist reading of Christian missionary history and migration, displacement or disqualification

Pastoral/Practical Theology

  • Women’s contribution to the pastoral outreach in the church (e.g. taking care of migrants and displaced people)
  • Women grassroots groups and organizations in Asia that are challenging and redefining theology in their own communities and countries
  • Feminist theology of migration and displacement
  • Asian women’s creative strategies for integral personal development through hospitality services to refugees, migrants or displaced (such as soup kitchen, social service or self-help groups), strategies for dealing with human trafficking.
  • The Church’s initiatives for the empowerment of displaced people, especially women refugees/migrants
  • Church initiatives for the inclusion of disqualified people, especially the disabled, those with disease, or PLHIV, and queer people


  • Spirituality of welcoming strangers
  • Feminist spiritual discourses on serving the poor
  • Relationship between spirituality and morality, contemplation and action
  • Discerning opportunities or discerning thesigns of the times.

Inter-religious theology

  • Interreligious dialogue and women (such as dialogue through practical engagement on the issue of displacement among various faith traditions)

Mode of Presentation

In this “Call for Papers” – the “papers” are in two forms: (1) a theological research paper and (2) written essays or performed through poetry, art, dance and/or music, even role-play involving audience participation.

For Paper Presenters/Participants

As EWA’s emphasis is on promoting theological research, a fundamental criterion for participation in this Conference is the ability and willingness to write and present an original, creative theological paper or art that has never before been published.  The deadline for submission of an abstract of about 300 words is the 31st December 2018.

A screening committee will then conduct a blind-review of the abstracts to identify those who could be Paper-Presenters, taking into account the following criteria: relevance to the theme, consideration of the Asian contextual perspective, originality of insight, methodology, and organization of the paper, as well as, representation by country.  In terms of methodology, dialogue with feminist theories and other disciplines (i.e. sociology, gender studies, peace studies, race and ethnicity, postcolonial and development studies, human rights, international relations, and so on) with theology is highly encouraged.

By February 15, 2019, those who have submitted abstracts will be informed if they have been accepted as Paper-Presenters at the conference. You are expected to submit your complete paper of 3000-5000 words on or before October 1, 2019.

From the completed papers of active EWA members, one paper will be further selected for videoconferencing in colleges/universities in the US and in other continents. The paper selected will be announced on or before November 15, 2019, and the writer is required to submit an approximate 1500 words of the presentation on or before December 20, 2019. All things being equal, preference will be given to those who have not made a Skype presentation in the last EWA conferences.

For Non-paper Presenters

Submit a short description (300 words) of the theme, the content, and the mode or medium of presentation. The deadline for submission of the description is on the 15th February 2019.  More unconventionally, hypertext explorations and multimedia texts are encouraged.

Submitted texts and presentations must be theological in scope, contextualized in Asian women’s lived realities and provide an avenue for critique and ongoing discussion. We aim to publish quality papers and share the work in other formats through our website,

Process of the Conference

The papers will be circulated to all participants for reading before they arrive at the Conference. The conference will consist of plenary and small group sessions and it is anticipated that there will also be invited guest speakers. The small group sessions will be a time for further discussion and critique of the papers. The Conference will provide opportunities for deep reflection and expanding awareness of issues from other Asian countries, input, discussion, prayer and networking.


EWA will cover the conference fee, room, and board of all participants. We are raising funds to cover the plane tickets of paper writers. While efforts are being made to raise some funds, we have no guarantees about the outcome of this. We will try our best to fund as well, non-paper presenting participants especially from countries not being represented,who fulfill criteria for such support on request. Thus, if intending participants can meet their own travel expenses (e.g. by seeking funds from their own institution), it will make it more possible for us to support those with greater difficulties. We will welcome any contribution, however small, from those who can afford it.


Those who are interested in writing a paper for this conference are asked to submit their applications (with or without an abstract) on or before 15th December 2018. Please use the on-line form provided at the link below.  Those interested in a creative work presentation (such as artwork, and the like) should submit their application at the latest 4th January 2019.

The On-line Application form is available at this link: EWA 9 On-line Application Form

If the link does not work, please copy and paste this


Future Correspondence

It is preferable that all correspondence – including sending of the final paper – be done through e-mail to the Secretary: Virginia Saldanha


EWA Coordinating Team (2018-2020)

  • Coordinator: Kristine Meneses (Philippines)
  • Assistant Coordinator: Mary Yuen (Hong Kong)
  • Secretary: Virginia Saldanha (India)
  • Treasurer: Andrea Lizares (Philippines)
  • Ex-Officio: Jeane Peracullo (Philippines)
  • Consultants: Sharon Bong (Malaysia) and Julia Ong (Singapore)
  • Web Coordinator: Rae Sanchez (Philippines)

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